Is Swimming After Eating Really Dangerous?
There are all sorts of myths that we have heard at one time or the other. Some of them, in the fullness of time have turned out be just that, myths, while others have actually turned out to be facts. Myths that are medically linked, that is they come with the caveat that we are likely to suffer serious repercussions health-wise if we don’t keep them in mind, are usually more likely to be taken seriously. This is because it is better to be safe than sorry as far as they are concerned. One of these myths is that swimming after eating is dangerous, and that one risks drowning if they do so. This is something that we always heard every summer as kids, whenever we were planning on going out for a swim. Back then, we probably took it as gospel, but when we grew up, it is something most of us started to question. The myth also goes on to state that in case you have eaten, you have to wait for a minimum of 30 minutes before going for a swim. The thing we usually ask ourselves is, is this a myth or is there some truth to it; is it really dangerous to swim after eating? Well, this article will look to delve deeper into this and look to have this myth either busted or confirmed as a fact.
The reason why this myth came about is because it was believed that one would suffer muscle cramping if they went for a swim after eating, without waiting for at least 30 minutes to elapse. The reason behind this line of thinking, it was argued, was because after eating most of your blood flow and consequently most of your oxygen is devoted towards the process of digestion. This meant that, given swimming is an activity that is muscle intensive, there would not be enough oxygen for the muscles and as such one would develop cramps and drown. This myth, though has since been debunked, and the simple answer is NO, it is not really dangerous to go swimming after eating. this is because, as per the subject matter experts over at frontlineer.com, while it is true blood is diverted to cater for digestion, the degree of digestion just isn’t enough to become problematic, and definitely not enough to cause the cramps.
Other than the above explanation, another version of this myth attributed the fact that it was dangerous to go swimming after eating to the fact that swimming will prevent the amount of blood that is necessary for digestion from going to the stomach, causing severe stomach cramps that would lead to drowning. This version of things has also since been debunked. The fact remains that there are no cases of people dying from drowning, primarily due to going swimming after eating. The fact that the American Red Cross had to issue a scientific advisory review in the respected International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education dismissing this claim as a myth just goes to show how much traction this myth had gained over the years. As stated above there have been no cases of drowning linked to this myth and there is no scientific data and research supporting this myth. As is covered in detail over at the ever reliable frontlineer.com, the source of these myth has been traced back to the boy scout handbook that was released way back in 1908 warning scouts to wait at least 90 minutes before going swimming. The handbook itself offered no explanation why but the myth carried and stuck for years before it was finally debunked and busted as just a myth.
The only thing that can be said about going for a swim after eating is that, like any high-energy activity, it may not be a good idea to go swimming after having had a heavy meal. This is just a common sense thing and nothing to do with the fact that swimming after having eaten may be dangerous. Most people actually feel lethargic after having had a heavy meal. However, as is covered in discussions over at frontlineer.com, the body is able to provide enough blood to cater for both the digestion of food and your muscles and therefore it is safe to go swimming even after having eaten. There are those who have tried to pass this myth as being true by explaining that body temperature usually rises during digestion and therefore the cold shock response that may ensue when one enters cold water may lead to drowning, however, since the rise in body temperature that is due to digestion is usually very small, it is highly unlikely that there would be any negative effects when one enters the water when going swimming.
Whichever way you slice this myth, and whatever way you try to explain it away, be it the temperature rise and cold shock response angle or the digestion and blood diversion angle, there is no scientific proof backing up the claims and as such it is safe to declare that this is a myth and that it is not dangerous to go swimming after eating. As usual, there is more on this and other topics to be found over at frontlineer.com, so check them out.