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Does Your Hair Keep You Out of the Gym?

By: , – Colleen Moody, Fitness Magazine
9/9/2011 9:00 AM   :  77 comments   :  19,228 Views

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When it comes to excuses to miss a workout, we’ve heard them all. But here’s a reason every woman has probably used at least once  — skipping the gym so you don’t mess up your hair. According to this CNN article, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin stopped by the Bronner Bros. International Hair Show this past weekend to talk about the belief that ethnic women don’t exercise because it might ruin their hair.
 
Benjamin said in her conference that she’s talked to a number of women of all ethnic groups who admit that after spending anywhere from $50 or more on their hair, the last thing they want to do is get sweaty and muss up their ‘do. According to the American Journal of Public Health, less than 30 percent of minority women in the U.S. get the recommended level of exercise. Reasons cited were lack of time, economic constraints, and the hassle of personal care, such as their hair. 
 
“I don’t think it’s limited to African American women,” Benjamin said. “Other ethnic groups would come up and say the same thing. I’ve heard it from Hispanics.  I’ve heard it from a couple of my older white patients that I have at home.  They’re saying I get my hair done every weekend — I don’t want to be exercising after I get my hair done.”
 
Find out what’s the solution to this hairy situation.
 
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Comments

  • MINICHILL98
    77
    I dont feel so much problem with my hair while workouts and trust me I never skip my gym.Yaa it's true that sometimes my hair just get in bad condition while exercising due to sweat.A very nice blog on Health drinks.Please visit I am sure you will like it.
    www.minichill.com - 12/16/2011   5:54:52 AM
  • 76
    Wrap it and run! I go to the gym to work out, which is just another reason why I totally appreciate the judge-free-zone attitude of my gym. - 11/10/2011   4:49:05 PM
  • SBNORMAL
    75
    I am African American, when I wore a relaxer,and I have baby soft hair that fuzzes quick. I decided a long time to go natural-afro, sometimes braid, locs and twist. My weight has always been a struggle. I also realized that no one ever died from a bad hairdo, but obesity, hbp, diabetes and heart attack kills!!! I look cute with my natural hair!! - 11/10/2011   7:19:23 AM
  • K_RENEE
    74
    Sadly, yes I have let my hairstyle hinder me from working out. But that was before I learned how to do my hair in workout friendly ways! Now that I am equipped with that knowledge, it's not a problem. - 10/16/2011   8:46:07 PM
  • 73
    My hair is definitely a factor. I'd love to try working out in the monrings. I'm Black (from Jamaica) and I have short hair. So when I work out I sweat and my hair style is gone. I always have to put small setters in my hair when I go to sleep and my hair will dry and look decent in the morning for work (yes I sleep in my setters). It's be too much work for me to get up early, dry and curl my hair. I hate spending time on my hair. So I exercise in the evenings and not too close to bed, otherwise I can't sleep. With my hair being short I don't have the luxury of putting my hair in a ponytail. Wigs are not an option or braids for me.

    Black women are not making excuses, we can't go to work or wherever with our hair looking like wet rats. Appearance is important for work especially and for a person's self esteem. I notice in America women sometimes don't take much pride by going to work in t-shirt, sweats and tights, for instance. That'd never fly here in Jamaica. I work in a financial institution and a professional look is very important. We don't have to be fashionistas but professional look at least.

    It's hard enough to find the time to workout much less the time to dry, straighten or curl our hair for it to look decent. White people or caucasian or whatever need to not speak about matters they nothing about. Black people hair or other ethnicities with fine naturally curly hair have a problem with sweat and washing it every day, it is not good either because your hair will dry out. Moisture is key for AA hair. Going hairdresser every day is costly and inconvenient.

    Hair may be an excuse but it's just for each person to find a way around it that works for them. Invalidating people's reasons without understanding it doesn't help, better to try and understand and work around it. Ignorance will help no one. I could easily say I hate lifting weights and then u'd say its a silly excuse. Find out the reason and then see how to help. - 10/7/2011   12:02:22 PM
  • 72
    About ethnic women donít exercise because it might ruin their hair, to me it's not really a true statement. I'm Asian but I do work out, in my community...the reason of women don't exercise is just like any other people around the world...not enough time for them self...or simply being lazy and not discipline...that's all. - 9/16/2011   10:01:35 AM
  • 71
    I'm a bald, so I cannot weigh in on hair. But, I can tell you, that sexy comes from within. Strength, energy, self confidence, dedication - all things earned with a healthy lifestyle and all very sexy. ...and, at least for me, there is something very appealing about a women who loads a bar with a couple hundred pounds and lifts it off the floor. Don't really care what her hair looks like at that point. - 9/16/2011   7:26:57 AM
  • 70
    No! I'm Black and I work out. I wear several hair styles. I don't do braids. In the summer time I like to swim. Me and my stylist talk all the time about different styles for working out. - 9/16/2011   12:02:17 AM
  • MRSBLAK27
    69
    No,I find creative ways to do my hair. I will admit there are times when my hair is a mess, but it is what it is. Like someone else said before me, you can't let this be an excuse for getting healthy. Just have to find a way around it. - 9/14/2011   11:40:50 AM
  • 68
    I agree with some of the posts that people do not understand that this is an issue for AA women at times. I personally had this issue before I went natural and it sometimes hindered me from working out. - 9/14/2011   11:06:55 AM
  • YOOVIE
    67
    I find that its best to put a positive spin on it. I may be the farthest thing from 'ethnic', but my hair is a combination of straight, uber curly and wavy, takes an hour to blow dry and 45 minutes to straighten... and instead of someone saying its dumb to not want to waste those two hours by sweatily destroying all ym hard work at the gym...I prefer to say that...

    the best thing you can sacrifice to the weight loss gods is a damn good hair day. - 9/14/2011   10:04:54 AM
  • ROGERSBABE1
    66
    Also...last comment. Although I don't think you should use your hair as an excuse not to exercise, calling it a "dumb" concern is insensitive and reflects a lack of understanding of the culture. If you don't understand it, it's best not to comment. - 9/13/2011   9:08:01 AM
  • ROGERSBABE1
    65
    BTW: Before I decided to go natural, I bought funky, pretty scarfs that matched my work out clothing. I thought that was fun too. I am not adverse to wigs either, which I would take off in the locker room and put a scarf on my hair. The wigs gave me some diversity and flexibility when I wanted to rock a straight look. - 9/13/2011   9:01:00 AM
  • ROGERSBABE1
    64
    I am also an AA woman and have several friends who don't work out because of hair. When I began my journey to better health, I had to make a decision. Almost 60 pounds lighter and knowing working out several times a week has helped, I have opted for a natural style (either a fro or braids). I know that this is not for everyone, but for me, it came down to a matter of what was most important for me at the time and working out and losing weight won out. I love my natural 'do and feel good about the decisions I've made. - 9/13/2011   8:55:44 AM
  • 63
    No and now that it is super short it would be a really bad excuse for skipping the gym or a run! - 9/12/2011   8:45:08 PM
  • 62
    Decisions, decisions, decisions. Bad hair or bad health.

    Everyone has and is entittled to an opinion even if they don't understand what this article is about. Which has become quite obvious to me after reading some of the comments.

    "Do what you like, that what I said, everybody must be fed" - Blind Faith

    - 9/12/2011   6:06:11 PM
  • 61
    I'm white and have always struggled with my hair -- it is thick and course. But I can manage my hair by just twisting it into a bun. This article has given me a greater understanding of what African American women go through to manage their hair. I understand, even though I have not personally experienced this to the degree that other women have. Thank you for this article. - 9/12/2011   2:45:55 PM
  • 60
    I am an AA woman and working out and managing my hair is a very big deal. And, to me, it's not an excuse. I can not just exercise, wash my hair, blowdry and go. It doesn't work like that. At all. I just missed 3 days of working out solely because of my hair, as I'd taken my braids out. I use to not be a braid wearer at all but I am now. If it's what I have to do to become fit and healthly, well, that's what I will do. The bottom line is that my health is more important than my hair and the biggest thing is that I've found ways to deal with my hair so that I can workout. - 9/12/2011   2:04:37 PM
  • 59
    I'm AA. Have always worn my hair natural. Mostly because I'm a runner. Recently, I decided to do something different. I got my hair "temporarily" straightened. I was told not to work out for two days. I didn't, and I was not the least amused with the sacrifice. Grrr. After that, I resumed daily workouts/runs. Now, my hair doesn't look as straight as it once did, but I DONT care. I truly think we are overly concerned with what other's think when in reality most (white) people don't really notice.

    When the choice is between my body and my hair, I choose my hair. What's the point of having fantastic looking hair, if your body is 100+ pounds overweight? No thank you. - 9/12/2011   11:21:25 AM
  • 58
    Being African american I too have used the excuse of not working out because of my hair, but I visit the beauty supply quite often and I wear hair pieces (i.e fake ponytails), many people wonder why i wont wear my natural hair down(which is shoulder length), and it is because I do not want to put heat on my hair everyday. I condition it and pull it back into a pony tail, that way I am doing what is best for my hair and my body. - 9/12/2011   10:53:44 AM
  • 57
    you're totally right .. am from the middle east and i feel the same too! if i had my hair done i would skip the gym! - 9/12/2011   5:04:48 AM
  • TAMALA721
    56
    And COCOPUFF_79 I agree with you. Women who don't have to worry about it don't understand. I would not expect them to, I have had to deal with this forever. Even from men who Ive dated who don't get it. When you can just wash and go, you dont know how it is when a person does not have that option. - 9/12/2011   12:09:31 AM
  • TAMALA721
    55
    I just got my hair braided. I am not fond of it really, but I did it so that I can workout as much as I want. For that reason I LOVE it. I am going to continue for about 6 months. I know when I stop getting it braided I will not workout as much as I do now. - 9/12/2011   12:07:29 AM
  • 54
    I think this was a good article - it gave people who struggle with this a time and space to talk about how to work around the issue.

    If I really put myself in their shoes, it makes sense.

    I am a guy, but what if I was told that I had to wear a dress to work out? What if I was told that It would be fine, after all, I can go home and change afterward. Would I be okay with that? Heck no. I want to look a certain way when I work out and anyone who says differently may not be thinking it all the way through. If you really think that you don't care how you look when you work out, then head off to the gym naked.... or maybe try working out wearing a clown suit, one with a big red nose and some floppy shoes. On some level, we all care about something related to our appearance.

    If a woman messes up her hair do, it may be messed up all week until her next appointment. Would you go work Monday naked, or wearing that clown suit?

    I would hope that everyone can find a way to balance their lives so that looking good and working out don't have to be such separate things, but until then, folks with hair issues need to have a time and place to discuss work-arounds. - 9/11/2011   8:36:11 PM
  • 53
    wow...the comments left on this article have me speechless! Talk about insensitive...just because hair maintenance isn't an issue for you personally doesn't make it an invalid concern. This is a complicated issue for Black women...not everyone can (or wants to) rock the natural hair or braids. When I took a break from wearing braids I had to readjust my entire schedule so that I could work out and make my hair presentable so that I looked professional at work. Its not about 'vanity', I just couldn't go to work looking like a hot mess!
    And for the record-natural hair for black women needs just as much attention as relaxed hair or other styles-not many of us can wash n' go...
    Some of you guys need to do a google search or watch Chris Rock's 'Good Hair' and educate yourselves before passing judgement on others... - 9/11/2011   6:26:04 PM
  • 52
    ehhh sometimes I quibble about it. My hair is long and so I either have to fuss with braiding it or pinning it up or something to keep it out of hair/eyes/face/mouth - sometimes a simple french braid in back works... it really depends on the activity - some yoga or pilates moves I'd rather have two side braids, because a bun or twist in the back will get in the way of bending back or of me laying on the ground. Then I threaten to chop it all off (it does grow back very fast!) and my husband starts whining about keeping it long. I do think I end up using my hair as an excuse not to do something, even if I don't wash it every day or every 2nd or 3rd day or whatever. But at times I just gotta get off the rear and go do it, whatever IT is, ST or walking or rebounding or dancing or whatever, and deal with the hair later.

    Oh and another neat trick that I have done (works better for me in the winter when it is cold) but you know those funky "do rag" style or chef style hats that some doctors/nurses use in surgery? with all the wild prints? I got one of those at a local store that sold scrubs and it has elastic back and then strings to tie it closer in back, but I can bend over, wad my hair up in that thing, pull the elastic up in back, tie the bow, and take off doing whatever, and it keeps the hair out of my face/eyes/teeth whatever (you laugh but for awhile in my adulthood, I had 2 years of braces, and my hair would swing up and get snagged in the braces!! arrrgh!). Then, it's still a mess, but all anyone sees is the cute patterned "hat" that I'm wearing!! - 9/11/2011   2:48:49 PM
  • 51
    It's more a issue of AA women being pressed upon to look less ethnic, therefore, we have hair issues.

    Sisters, free yourselves. Natural hair, locks, twists, and braids can be styled.

    Our hair is unique to us, love it because it's not gonna change into what the mass media is pushing no matter how much money you spend. - 9/11/2011   1:57:25 PM
  • 50
    I definitely DO NOT have a problem with working out and worrying about my hair. For one - most guy's I know don't spend $50 on a haircut (mine cost $13 and lasts for about 6 weeks) and for me the second reason s that I keep it very short (a #2 guard all over).

    What I want to say to the women here is that unless a lady has obviously greasy, dirty hair (ignoring basic hygiene), your hair styles really aren't all that important to us.

    The glow that you have from a work-out, the obvious good health that working out shows on you are both more important than some fancy hair style.

    The beauty of a healthy woman lasts much, Much longer than ANY hairstyle you choose.

    Oops, I forgot. Women get their hair done to impress other women.

    At least now you have a man's opinion. - 9/11/2011   1:54:13 PM
  • 49
    Doing a workout IS my beauty routine! - 9/11/2011   1:30:33 PM
  • 48
    This is not the first time I'm hearing this. My sister are this way about their hair. For me it's about getting my exercise done. I could care less about what my hair look like. I have gotten my hair done and gone and exercise the same day. My hair style normally last a couple of hours anyway. I just think it's a poor excuse. - 9/11/2011   9:24:23 AM
  • 47
    I had never even thought about that since my hair is just long and straight so I don't have to waste a lot of money and time on it but it could definitely be a valid excuse after spending $50 or much more to get hair done, I certainly would not be wanting to mess it up getting hot and sweaty in a lot of the exercises or running.
    - 9/11/2011   8:44:40 AM
  • 46
    Even before I started exercising regularly, I decided my hair would be healthier if I let it be natural. Now all I do is wash it every other day. I rarely use hair dryers or anything else - only for special occasions. My hair is so much healthier too.

    Since I started exercising regularly, make-up has also become something that happens rarely. I use lotions and mascarra. I'm enjoying my natural look. - 9/11/2011   8:06:50 AM
  • 45
    Wow, that's one I'd never heard of before. At first I thought who would be that vain, then after reading the comments, I see why it really could be a valid excuse. - 9/11/2011   7:02:13 AM
  • 44
    It was useful to be reminded of another blessing...that I pretty much do NOT let my hair dictate whether or not I workout.

    With that said, I do avoid the pool & water workouts because of my hair. It would / does add another component into the things to think about when planning a workout.

    It was worth being reminded of something that others have to think about as well. - 9/11/2011   2:40:23 AM
  • KHALIA2
    43
    NO! - 9/11/2011   12:35:06 AM
  • MSGNOME
    42
    I always workout in the morning before my shower to avoid the hair issue. Its really curly but I always wear it that way. Back when I was straightening it, I worked out whenever, since its easy to just brush and re-straighten a few pieces and not look like a wildwoman. - 9/10/2011   11:19:55 PM
  • LORTHOM2001
    41
    you know...there's always a reason behind "THE REASON" and a story behind the real "STORY"..not working out due to the 'do is JUST another story/reason behing some other story/reason that the surveyed folks were not really willing to divulge/explain/share! - 9/10/2011   7:54:51 PM
  • 40
    ....I'm left speechless after reaching this article and some of the responses. Apparently I'm not alone, 4,449 views and only 40 comments including my own. - 9/10/2011   6:40:42 PM
  • 39
    My hair doesn't stop me from working out. It looks crazy during a workout and that's fine by me. I hate when it gets in my face so I use two pony tail holders, a headband, and 2 or 3 clips. It's crazy but when I workout I'm focused on working out not looking cute. - 9/10/2011   5:58:47 PM
  • 38
    NEVER! - 9/10/2011   5:54:33 PM
  • 37
    Who cares what you look like? It's how you feel after reaping the benefits of a good work-out that counts! - 9/10/2011   5:20:31 PM
  • 36
    My health is more important than my hair. To each his own. - 9/10/2011   5:07:24 PM
  • RUNESHADOW
    35
    I don't think we should invalidate other people's reasons for not working out. If folks do avoid workouts because of hair care or other personal care issues, helping with suggestions or sharing your personal experiences is the way to go, not blowing this off an a mere "excuse" or vanity or whatever. Telling somebody their health is more important than their appearance is not helpful either. That is very invalidating to the individual and not very nice SP behavior, in my opinion. Your health is important long-term; living with yourself and your appearance is important in the present moment, and perhaps in your job or other aspects of your life. How do we find balance?

    I am white but my kids are mixed race, and I know the extra care my daughter's hair and skin need. I know hair care is one of the reasons my daughter chooses to do her exercise routines in the morning, before she does her hair.

    I am repeatedly dismayed by the "No excuses" approach on SP. Let's address reasons; let the individuals look inside themselves and learn whether something is a valid reason (and seek options) or a way to fool themselves. Let's be helpful by seeking and offering suggestions, not dismissing everything as mere excuses, especially if the commenters are not of the ethnic backgrounds being discussed and cannot possibly have the same experiences. Can we identify barriers to healthy living and seek solutions rather than criticizing people's reasons and experiences? I thought SP's goal was to build bridges and provide support, not invalidate people or their experiences. - 9/10/2011   3:49:36 PM
  • GOODGIRLK
    34
    I don't thinks it's dumb at all. I'm black and I still workout regardless of my hair but I do understand. For all the other black women who go natural congradulations for you but it's not an option for me. My hair is too thick to go without a perm. I sweat a lot when I work out and my hair looks like a hot mess. I can't wash my hair everyday. To wash it, blow dry it, and flat iron it takes too long and its a process that I wouldn't wont to do everyday because it would damage my hair. So when I work out I usually rock a ponytail but who wants that look everyday. - 9/10/2011   12:12:59 PM
  • 33
    This is the dumbest thing i have ever heard.
    afraid to workout because it would ruin ones hair
    do. I am Caucasion and i don't spend $50.00
    on my hair at all. I go to the gym work out not careing
    what my hair looks like when i get out of a cardio class,
    martial arts class or weightlifting class or a training session
    and come home. with the satisfaction that
    i got exercise and just brush my hair and go
    about my day. so using the excxuse of i can't go to the gym
    because it is going to ruin my precious hair style
    is a load of Hair gel. - 9/10/2011   11:38:14 AM
  • 32
    I plan my hair appointments around my workouts. Besides, at my gym I have a steam room where, after slathering conditioner on my hair, I go to relax and stretch. Then 20 minutes and a great deep conditioning later, I am good to go! - 9/10/2011   11:24:43 AM
  • 31
    What a poor article sparkpeople! No solutions, just looking at one of millions of possible excuses why a person chooses not to work out. Gimme a break!
    As usual the fabulous community here have pitched in with top ways to work around "post workout hair" - thanks everyone. - 9/10/2011   10:26:18 AM
  • PRUSSIANETTE
    30
    I thought this blog was a joke, but after reading the many comments, I guess not. I don't sweat much, a real problem in hot summer weather as it is difficult to cool down, but I guess the upside is that I can work out in a gym and then do whatever I want to do afterwards. The only time I would have to worry about my hair is if I would do water aerobics or swimming. - 9/10/2011   9:53:53 AM
  • 29
    My hair is fairly short but I wash it every day. I do give a lot of thought to what I'm going to be doing in the evening if it's a water aerobics day....I can't go anywhere with wet hair and there's no quick solution if I'm going somewhere after class! Planning, planning... - 9/10/2011   7:36:45 AM
  • 28
    After years of long blonde hair and countless $$$ spent in salons,and not wanting to mess up my blond hair, pools were out of the question because the chlorine turns blond hair green. I moved to South Beach, Fl. the hot weather made waring long hair unpleasant. So I cut it short , have worn it short for years, am a firey red head now and I work out everyday, swim 6 days a week and get complements everyday about my cute hair.
    I would rather be healthy and fit than worry about my hair or makeup.
    That should be the least of anyones worries. - 9/10/2011   1:41:45 AM

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