Recent research published in the Archives of Dermatology determined that statistically, 2 in every 5 African American women may avoid exercising to avoid doing damage to their hair. Dermatologist, Amy McMichael M.D. pioneered the study, as senior researcher at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She came up with the idea for the study from her own experiences as an African American woman, who sometimes skipped a workout to protect a pricey style. The study took a survey with a sample of 103 black women who visited the Wake Forest Dermatology center. They questioned the women about their exercise habits. The women fell deeply below the national average of 105 minutes reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with 25% not exercising at all, and 50% exercising less than 75 minutes a week.
Then McMichael asked the women if their hair impacted these habits. Approximately one-third of the sample reported exercising less than they wanted because of their hair, and about half had contemplated changing their hairstyle to make exercise easier. McMichaels calls for more research on the topic, and suggests that the amount of time and money African American women invest in their hair may deter them from exercise because of the potential for sweat and aerobic activity ruining the style. However, staff at The Cut for New York Magazine did a small survey of women within their team, and suggest that this behavior may cross racial and ethnic lines. Most women asked have skipped a workout here or there to keep a good hair day rolling, or to avoid having to redo hair before going out. As new year’s resolution time rolls around, it’s time to consider, what is more important to your health, your hair, or your physical fitness.