How Long Do You Have to Wait After Eating To Swim?

Max. D Gray
By Max. D Gray. Updated: January 25, 2017
How Long Do You Have to Wait After Eating To Swim?

We have grown up surrounded by false myths: do not swallow gum or it will stay in your stomach, don't squint or your face will stay that way, behave yourself or Santa will give you coal. Of course, our parents made us realize that life was not easy and that everything we did could have consequences, that includes swimming after we have eaten, whether it be in the sea or in a pool after eating. But some of these stick and we continue to ask how long do you have to wait after eating to swim. Knowing how long we should wait to go and swim after eating, can be a big worry for many parents so at oneHOWTO we have the answer and we guarantee you will be surprised.

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  1. "Digestion Cut" - The Biggest Myth of Them All
  2. How Long Should You Actually Wait to Swim After Eating?
  3. Why Does This Myth Exist?
  4. Final Thought

"Digestion Cut" - The Biggest Myth of Them All

As you may have realized by now, digestion is actually not cut completely. All those sunny days you have spent in the shadows waiting for your food to digest before swimming in those crystal clear waters have been for naught, as diving into the sea or into a pool after eating will not harm you at all except in very extreme circumstances.

What is wrongfully known as a digestion cut is merely a syncope by hydrocution which occurs only in particular situations when we swim in water that is too cold. This can cause severe dizziness which can lead to loss of consciousness, something extremely dangerous in the sea or a pool as it can lead to drowning. Specialists suggest that this can happen without the need to have previously eaten, simply from the temperature shock experienced by your body, so digestion has nothing to do with it.

Additionally the process of digesting food can take up to 4 hours, meaning that if we had to wait to digest it all before a dip, we would be waiting a long time.

How Long Should You Actually Wait to Swim After Eating?

Knowing all this you can deduce the logical answer to this question: you do not need to wait to swim after eating, you can do it anytime. Yes, your parents have lied and you know from experience that this is not the first time. When going for a leisurely swim, the time after your meal will not directly affect your ability during that particular swim.

Whenever you swim, whether you've finished eating or not, it is important that the water be warm and if you decide to swim in cold water, enter the water slowly, allowing your body to gradually get used to the cold without suffering a syncope (temporary loss of consciousness caused by drop in blood pressure). This recommendation is especially important when your body is very hot, for example after exercise or when you arrive at the beach or pool after sweating heavily.

How Long Do You Have to Wait After Eating To Swim? - How Long Should You Actually Wait to Swim After Eating?

Why Does This Myth Exist?

It has long been believed that swimming right after eating will cause you to get cramps, however there is no real evidence backing that fact. The idea behind this myth, is that as your body is still digesting your food and as you start to exercise, your body will send all your blood to your exercising parts and away from your digestive system, which in turn would cause cramp or a stitch.

Nevertheless this would only be caused if an individual were to put their body under pressure when swimming: a normal swimmer would have to work very hard for that to happen. Of course professional swimmers always avoid having a big meal before a race, as they know that they will be putting their bodies under pressure.

How Long Do You Have to Wait After Eating To Swim? - Why Does This Myth Exist?

Final Thought

Now that we have destroyed the myth on waiting to swim after eating, it is important to remember however that eating just before a swimming competition may cause your body to cramp. However, if you are going to go for a leisurely swim you are free to eat as you wish without having to worry about how long it has been since you ate your meal.

Finally, you should also consider this suggestion when you decide to take a dip in a pool, sea or river: if the water is very cold, get in slowly so that if your body starts to experience symptoms of hydrocution you can leave or get help.

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to How Long Do You Have to Wait After Eating To Swim?, we recommend you visit our Diseases & secondary effects category.

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How Long Do You Have to Wait After Eating To Swim?