It’s one we all heard as a child – no swimming for an hour after you eat. Cue those summer days on the beach post picnic, begging your mother and father to let you into the water and pleading every three minutes or so; “Is it time yet?”
The old wives tale would have you believe that swimming on a full stomach could cause you to cramp up and would present a risk of drowning.
So is there any truth to the words passed down through the generations? Not at all. The belief comes from the knowledge that food digestion requires a greater flow of blood to the stomach to aid in the breaking down of food, but the truth is that humans have enough blood to keep all parts of the body functioning at all times, and cramps can occur while swimming (or taking part in any exercise) whether you’ve eaten recently or not.
The greatest risks of drowning actually occur when young children are left unsupervised in water, and in adults when the consumption of alcohol has occurred beforehand. So eat up, leave the drinks down, and keep an eye on those close to you.
One thing to note though – you may not have the energy to go full steam aftereating, so if you’re looking to beat a personal best then time yourself so the swim is not directly after a hefty feed. As with all sports, you’re better off following a full and balanced diet and combining your healthy eating efforts with regular exercise, and swimming is one of the best workouts you can get.