Atlanta, GA (BlackNews.com) — 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.
It’s a finding that comes as no surprise to black women throughout the U.S., many of whom are all too familiar with forgoing the treadmill, gym class or the jogging trail for the sake of salvaging their recently washed or styled hairdo. Renowned OBGYN and women’s health expert Dr. Ken Taylor says this hair versus health dilemma is causing havoc in many of his black female patients, and is contributing to the obesity epidemic among black women.
“All women want to look their best, and hair is an essential part of the equation. But for the hair textures of many black women, the scalp doesn’t replenish oil as quickly and they don’t have to wash their hair as frequently as other women,” says Dr. Taylor. “This means a decision to workout for many black women is a greater time commitment to wash their hair more frequently, and to risk damaging or drying out their coif.”
Recent data shows nearly 50 percent of black women over age 20 are overweight or obese, compared with 33 percent of white women and 43 percent of Hispanic women. Dr. 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:
1. Consider isotonic and weight lifting exercises or a brisk walk. These type of exercises involve less sweat but accomplish getting the needed physical activity.
2. Use an absorbent sweat band around your head to help keep water to a minimum and maintain the hairstyle.
3. 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.
4. Reduce the amount of salt intake. When you sweat, the salt comes out affecting your hair. Instead, drink distilled water.
“Whatever strategies black women decide to employ, the bottom line is their health is too important to allow hair to be the hurdle between them and routine, physical activity,” says Dr. Taylor. “As more of my black female patients are battling high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and even cancer, it’s becoming more obvious that the hair versus health fight is not a fair one.”
In addition to his insight on black health issues, Dr. Taylor is a respected presenter and published medical scholar. With more than 25 years of clinical study, professional practice and industry leadership under his belt, he is committed to exposing disconnects and bridging the divides that are keeping women and men from living at a fraction of their physical, emotional and sexual wellness. Dr. Taylor cuts no corners to ensure his patients and audiences realize their maximum physical, sexual and emotional health.
Dr. Taylor has been recognized by Who’s Who of Atlanta and the Top 25 Atlanta Doctor ranking and is a member of the Atlanta Medical Association, Georgia Medical Association and the National Medical Association.
For more information about Dr. Taylor, please visit www.drtkentaylor.com.