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Is it unhealthy to swim after a meal?

I think this myth has gone back and forth for years.  Eat. Don't Eat. It has been kind of confusing.  However, when we eat, our digestive system (especially the stomache) requires more blood to be actively working.  Is it so much extra blood that other systems (such as the muscular system/large muscle groups) would be compromised if we overloaded both systems at the same time?  More than likely not, however, it is comon to wait 20 minutes after eating to swim.  This way we are challenging fewer systems at one time and the likelihood of getting muscle cramps in deep water decreases.  Also, most athletes I know don't have a heavy meal less than two hours before exercise.  If you eat a large meal or food that is slowly digested, the more common reaction is to puke.  You don't want to be puking in the water either.  So it is still often recommended to not swim right after your meal.  Timing of eating, when you are going to work out and the types of food you will be eating are all important factors.
It is not unhealthy to swim after consuming a meal; however, it may be very uncomfortable for some individuals may be more sensitive to the challenge of simultaneous exertion and digestion.  The body needs a lot of blood to digest food.  This means that if you combine that with significant physical activity, your body’s normal digestion process is competing with the process to provide oxygen/fuel rich blood to hardworking muscles.  This is why some individuals may feel the need to vomit when exercising after a meal.  To reduce the chance of stomach distress, avoid consuming a heavy meal before engaging in demanding physical activity.
Dr. Know debunks the myth about swimming after a meal. Learn more about swimming in this video from Discovery.


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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.