Depending upon the texture, curl pattern and length of your hair, developing a high impact fitness routine may be a challenge. Whether natural or relaxed, curly or straight, research shows hair is a common barrier to exercising and physical activity for many African-American women.
According to a study by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina¸ about one-third of black women surveyed exercised less because they were concerned it would jeopardize their hair.
I don’t know about you, but I’m really not surprised. When I want to get serious about working out, the best thing that I can do for my body and my hair is to wear braids.
Renowned OBGYN and women’s health expert Dr. Ken Taylor acknowledges the hair versus health is a legitimate dilemma that shouldn’t be trivialized, but that African-American women simply can’t afford to let their hair stand in the way of their health. He offers the following counsel to black women who raise the issue in his medical practice:
- Consider isotonic and weight lifting exercises or a brisk walk. These type of exercises involve less sweat but accomplish getting the needed physical activity.
- Use an absorbent sweat band around your head to help keep water to a minimum and maintain the hairstyle.
- Get your heart rate up to 120 beats per minute. Once you accomplish this rate, maintain it for 5-10 minutes, and then take a break. You’ll get the exercise, but with less sweat.
- Reduce the amount of salt intake. When you sweat, the salt comes out affecting your hair. Instead, drink distilled water.