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Should You Really Wait 30 Minutes After Eating to Swim?

True or False? You should wait 30 minutes after eating before you swim. 

We’ve all heard that old saying, but is it a fact? Do you really have to wait 30 minutes before you or your kids can get back in the pool? 

False. It’s a total myth. 

The Reasoning Behind the Myth

This idea gained traction because the body sends extra blood to the digestive tract after you eat to help with digestion. For a while, it was reasoned that this might keep your arms and legs from having the amount of blood they needed to perform properly while swimming, or that your arms and legs might cramp from lack of blood and you wouldn’t be able to stay above water. But thankfully, the reality is that your body has enough blood to handle all those functions, including digestion, at the same time. 

Is this an old wives’ tale you have believed? You’re not alone! In fact, this idea has been so widely believed that the American Red Cross had to do some myth-busting. Their scientific advisory committee searched for any incidences, going back to 1960, of drownings related to eating before swimming. You know how many they found?


They released a statement that said, “food intake restrictions prior to swimming are unnecessary.”

Exercise vs. Recreation

While it’s safe to hop back in the pool after eating, you may not want to if you’re planning a tough workout. Eating and then enjoying a recreational swim or splashing with your kids is fine. But if your stomach is very full and you’re planning to train, swim laps, or do an aqua workout, you may experience reflux, heartburn, or even vomiting in extreme circumstances. So, to avoid any unnecessary discomfort, if you eat a big meal, give your stomach a bit of time before starting a strenuous workout. 

Now that you know it’s safe to swim after eating, you can plan a summer full of afternoons and evenings spent in the pool. Need water chemicals or pool supplies? Stop by or give us a call. And thank you for shopping local!