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Does Swimming After Eating Give You Stomach Cramps? Not Really, Experts Say

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Summer’s in full swing, and with it comes many health myths. For instance, will one actually get stomach cramps from swimming soon after a meal?

Yes, to a certain extent, but it’s nothing serious or something to worry about, according to experts at the Baylor College of Medicine.

Swimming Too Soon After Eating?

Going swimming or doing vigorous activities soon after eating poses “a small chance” of getting abdominal cramps or having an upset stomach since food hasn’t had time to settle.

One can get discomfort from swimming on a full stomach but it’s not life-threatening at all, said Isabel Valdez, Baylor College of Medicine physician assistant and family and community medicine instructor. She also explained that swimming is a great exercise and is best done when one has given enough time to digest food.

In short, the worst one could expect is some tummy cramping because it’s not done digesting yet but as long as the discomfort can be tolerated, one may dive in.

Remember, though, that swimming isn’t a great idea after having consumed alcohol. Being inebriated can get one actively dehydrated, as well as burned under direct sunlight.

Public health experts previously suggested staying indoors to avoid a brutal heat wave this season, with the Central and Eastern regions of the United States dealing with hot, humid temperatures until July 4.

The scorching heat, they warned, can lead to heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Painful muscle cramps, for instance, are common in the searing heat, so the CDC recommends stopping physical activity at the first signs of pain or spasms in the legs, flushed skin, or excess sweating. Hydrate immediately.

Summer Myths Debunked

Valdez was quick to reveal other common summer myths, including salt water as a miracle cure for skin cuts.

“This is a myth because saltwater from the beach can actually contain germs or bacteria that can infect an open wound,” she warned, adding that one should wait for complete wound healing and sealing before getting it submerged in either fresh or salt water.

She added that even if it’s merely cloudy outside, one still has to slather some sunscreen on the skin for protection. Skin is still exposed to ultraviolet rays, so she recommends any product with SPF over 30. Sunscreen should be reapplied throughout the day, particularly when one is sweating or swimming a lot.

Feeling dehydrated? Just any drink won’t cut it, Valdez said, as those with excess alcohol or caffeine content are likely to lead the body to lose fluids and become dehydrated. She added that one should simply drink water, whether lounging by the pool or at the beach.

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