Wednesday, July 6, 2011

"I can't sweat because of my hair, so I don't workout!" Your Hair vs. Your Health

The following read today was found on I thought it was an interesting read because I often speak to African American women who want to look good, but not good enough to sweat and workout. It's like the hair is the ruler of all things. I understand wanting to look good, but you can get your hair done ANYTIME, but your body is your temple and it's not an overnight project. I say you should workout and get your body in the condition you really desire and then worry about your hair. Why be fly from the neck up and your body isn't 1) Healthy & 2) In the best condition because you can't sweat due to your hair. The sad part is I used to think this way in my 20's (when I had a relaxer, and that was my excuse.). But I still worked out (a lot of walking in 30 minute increments) because I knew what I wanted my body to look like. Now in my 30's, I do not have a relaxer anymore and unfortunately after two kids my body goals are even MORE IMPORTANT so not wanting to sweat is not an option! In my 30's, walking wasn't enough. I have had to add workout routines, to get, stay and keep it toned! I can sacrifice a few cute hair days here and there to know that when I step out [for events or whatever] I feel I look great because I put in the work to do so. 

So please read the article below. It was NOT written by me, but I think she has some GREAT points. By Tosha Bailey
A 2007 study by showed that 4 out of 5 Black women are overweight or obese. In 2009, the CDC found that Black women were 60% more likely to be obese than non-Hispanic White women. We are all familiar with at least some of the diseases and health problems that are caused by obesity which include (but not limited to): Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, increased LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, heart disease, stroke, and death.

Despite all of that, the same study found that Blacks were 50% less likely to engage in physical activity compared to non-Hispanic Whites. Want to know the top reason given by many Black women on why they do not exercise? Their hair. A 2008 survey conducted by Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center found that 31% of 103 Black women said that they exercised less than they should because it might harm their hairstyles

With many Black women spending $70 or more for a relaxer and over $150 for a weave, one trip to the gym or pool can ruin the style causing more money to be spent bringing it back to its original glory.
As a personal trainer with seven years in the industry, I have personally heard this excuse over and over again. I have even been asked not to make workouts as intense to save a hairstyle. I know women who would rather pop a pill, drink a weight loss tea, have surgery (from lipo to lap band) and/or starve in order to lose weight without working out. Others feel that the only other option is to not do anything about losing weight at all. Obesity is an epidemic in the Black community and we must wake up, see the importance of exercise, and drop the hair excuse to put an end to it.

Luckily, there are ways to become active without ruining your hairstyle. In the 1990’s researchers at Harvard University created a pamphlet for active Black women called "Hair Care Tips for Sisters on the Move," that offered advice for maintaining both a healthy lifestyle and hairstyle. This pamphlet can still be found online at

Here are some examples of hairstyles that work well for active women of color:
Ponytails: Women with relaxed hair can pull their hair back into a high ponytail and pin the end under using hair pins. Use a headband/sweatband to catch sweat & keep the hairline smooth
Braids: This is a style I recommend to clients often. Micros, Cornrows or French Braids can be an easy way to maintain a cute style. You can also opt to create a couple of braids during workout, then take them down for a wavy, tousled look afterwards.
Weaves: Sew ins work well to protect your natural hair (because it’s braided) with the weave sewn in. This way you can wash the hair more often (if necessary) and be able to style it without damaging your natural hair.
Natural Styles: This is the route most Black women are taking now. Instead of fighting the natural hair texture, embrace it. Locs, Twists, Short afro or just wearing the hair out creates freedom to be as active in many ways including swimming, which is so often avoided by Black women due to hair concerns. I have personally been loc’d for 6 years now & love it! I was active before with a relaxer, but having locs makes it so much easier.

As you can see, there are many hairstyle options available to look good while becoming more active and creating a healthier, fitter, better you!

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