The number one reason African American women don’t exercise is not because they don’t know they should, rather it is an attempt to keep their hair styles intact. This is one of the biggest and most popular excuses that black women give for not participating in some type of activity.
It’s not only black women that use the excuse; women of other ethnic groups use it as well. “Oftentimes you get women saying, ‘I can’t exercise today because I don’t want to sweat my hair back or get my hair wet,’” Surgeon General Regina Benjamin told The New York Times. “I hate to use the word ‘excuse,’ but that’s one of them.”
As a woman, a black woman, I totally understand the time and cost associated with a trip to the hair salon. I also know that after paying anywhere from $30 to $125, depending on the style, I’m not too excited about sweating that hair style out the very next day. We all want to look good right? But I think that sacrificing your overall health for a hair style is not a good look. In the end you may regret the hours you spent in the salon instead of the gym. A stroke or heart attack scare later in life will make you wish you had sought other alternatives to keeping your hair tight.
When I exercise, I usually just put my hair in a ponytail. After my workout, I just bump it with a hot iron and I’m good to go. If my hair is freshly permed or styled, I usually wrap it and leave my scarf on while I exercise. Once I get home and unwrap it, it looks just as good as it did the day before.
There are alternatives to sweating your hair out at the gym. The goal is to be moving and live an active lifestyle. Some exercise alternatives are
- Water aerobics with hair pulled up in a swim cap (your hair shouldn’t get wet in these classes)
- Go for a bike ride (30 minutes and challenge yourself with hills)
- Go skating at the skating ring (30 minutes of nonstop movement)
There are also alternatives hair styles that may make exercise a bit easier. Going natural might allow you to not worry about sweating out a perm. Many women have opted to go natural and have embraced their hair in its natural state. I know going natural for some is a scary thought. What will I look like? Will my hair be nappy? Will people accept me? Natural is just your hair without all the fixins’ and if you try it and aren’t happy you can always try something else.
Braids are another alternative and these might also help you to start the process of going natural. There are so many options for wearing braids. From cornrows to kinky twist, you can get a style that best suits your personality. Braids last long and you’ll have months of not worrying about your hair, that means you can get it in (in terms of your workout).
Regardless of what you decide, the important thing is your health. Being active is not really a choice. Your hair is external, you can fix it up, but if you destroy your body, God’s temple…you just might not be able to fix it. Do yourself a favor and exercise!
Written for Three Naturals.com