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Does Your Hair Keep You Out of the Gym?

Written on August 31, 2011 at 2:30 pm , by

Turn heads for your biceps and your bouncy curls! (Photo courtesy of Sarah Kehoe)

Turn heads for your biceps and your bouncy curls! (Photo courtesy of Sarah Kehoe)

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.”

So, what’s the solution to this hairy situation? Benjamin recommends working out at night and asking your stylist for help. They often have products and recommendations that will make your style last longer, even after a exercising. Need more advice? Check in with our Beauty on the Go blog, for the latest tricks and must-have products from our beauty editors.

Now tell us: Have you ever skipped a workout because of your beauty routine?

  • seanna

    I quit swimming after I started getting my hair colored about four years ago. I don’t want my color to fade.

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  • Zeynep

    I’ve never skipped any workout because of my hair. But I often fed up with drying my hair after a workout. In summer, I dont need to do it, but in a cold and windy weather I have to do it ad I hate it:(

  • Becca Walker

    I am “white” 40 year old, with crazy kinky fine hair, and yes, working out totally is a stessor for my hair, but I do it, and live with it, knowing my health is more important than my do, still, I totally understand the stress. We girls need to give ourselves a break, the men/women we want to impress should not exceed the impressive ability to take care of ourselves and be in the best shapes of our lives, because that’s what’s sexy-being us!

  • http://the1fitfoodie.blogspot.com Niki

    Becca rocks! :)

    I have stick straight long hair. After working out, it’s sticking all over. I ALWAYS carry a can of dry shampoo and a bristle brush so that I can de-grease my hair and blowdry it while curling a little with the brush. I NEVER use my hair as an excuse to skip working out. And besides, sometimes all that money that women spend to make their hair look “messy and sexy” happens every time I work out. And I don’t have to pay for it! ;)

  • SpykeItHair

    In reference to the first comment: One trick for swimming and keeping your hair color is to soak your hair in the shower just before entering the pool. If your hair is already wet, it will only absorb the minimum amount of chemicals.

  • Mharmston

    I try to exercise early enough in the morning to have time to shower and do my hair. I can’t do a shower and go style. I look frumpy enough as it is. It’s hard, because my well done hair is my only good feature. I don’t look good in “messy and sexy” either.

  • Deb

    Articles like this make me embarrassed to be female. While I don’t know the delicacies of “ethnic” hair, I have extremely thick, wavy (but not wavy enough to be curly – ugg!) hair that requires multiple elastics to hold it back even if it’s cut short. It mats to me when I sweat, and I’m one of those women who sweat “like a guy” and get pretty gross. My hair is always a mess and requires shampoo and conditioner after a workout, even if I already conditioned it that day. Then getting a wide-tooth comb through it takes a while even after it’s smoothed. But it’s hair. It’s not as important as health. If you don’t want to waste a $50 ‘do, try not spending that much on it. Or find a workout you like better. That might sound uncaring, but I just don’t understand this excuse.

  • Tricotine

    I admit that I have used my hairdo as an excuse for not exercising in the past, when my hair was long.

    Now that I am back to getting into shape I have decided that I wouldn’t let my looks get into my health way anymore, so… I CUT MY HAIR SHORT! HA!

    Low maintenance and it always looks good! ☺

  • Renewie

    Yes, it is a hassle if you have natural hair and of ethnic background. Our hair loves moisture and will soak it up shrink and or frizz. There are many hair styles and products we can use to help us keep it under control. The benefits of working out far out way the minor inconvience of hair. I am just speaking for me….I had to lay down my excuses for not wanting to workout. When I am done working out and my hair needs some TLC I give it moisture, nourishment, twist it, let it dry and untwist it …Style and Go… No problem…No excuses

  • Marilyn

    It’s not just “ethnic” hair but we ALL have ethnicity and race, regardless of our color or background. Sheez.

    I’m white. I have fine hair that is straight, curls, and frizzes. If I get my hair done (rare), I plan it around my workouts or I permit myself a recovery day.

    My hair is so fine that it’s hard to keep it healthy. I use a broad-toothed bamboo comb, I let it air dry (which is hard in the winter so I don’t shower at the gym), I do vinegar treatments (google it), etc. I braid it when I exercise to keep it from tangling when I work out. I want my hair long so I do as much as I can to protect it and minimize the impact of my lifestyle.

    I have yet to find a stylist who can help me with my hair and my lifestyle. Either they don’t work out hard or they have piece of advice: cut it short.

  • Kini

    Well I have to admit I’ve had that excuse myself. I’m an African-American 39 year old woman. I get up at 4:30, workout an hour, and i have to be at work at 7 so then there’s the other hour it takes to wash, dry, and straighten it.

    Then there’s the walking the dog, fixing breakfast and lunch for myself and my kid, getting dressed and driving in. The only thing I’ve done different at this point is………………..I wear ponytails! LOL I want to be fit and the only time it makes a difference in regards to my hair is if I have a meeting that I’m conducting OR an after 5 to attend. But I’ll workout and just take the necessary time to get ready on those days, but my hair is no longer an EVERYDAY affair for me.

    Ponytails and buns are a GODSEND! =)

  • Dru Daniels

    Wow, really? Ethnic hair? That’s kind of ummm….racist? I’m sure white people NEVER use their hair as an excuse either. oh wait? they do too! A little offended by this article…

  • @Dru Daniels

    @drudaniels – I don’t think it is meant to be racist. I’m sure after blowouts or even just washing caucasian hair in the morning it can be a pain to deal with at the gym. But your hair is different than ethnic hair….THAT IS A FACT. The same way that there is more melanin in ethnic skin and as a result lowers risk factors for skin cancer. Speaking towards things that are based in genetics and just plain facts are not racist. White hair comes out straighter from the cutilcle than african american hair, aa hair is also dryer, more susceptible to damage, and breaks off easier than white hair…..this is because of how the hair originates from the cuticle, which comes from your genes…….how is genetics racist? If you want an article speaking towards your concerns too then fine, but to pretend that your hair concerns are the same as ‘ethnic hair’ is just plain absurd.

  • http://www.myspace.com/rahrahrobotmusic Anjulie

    YES.OHMYGOSH.i LOVE swimming, it’s my favorite workout, but i color my hair and it fades!!!!!!!!! i think i’m going to get one of those dorky looking cap things athletes wear so i can get back to swimming :) )))

  • http://Sparkpeople.com Debbie Danford

    OMG…I thought I was the only one with this excuse. And I’ve been keeping it a secret because I didn’t want to hear the comments! I am white with very thin, stright hair. It doesn’t take much to make it look like I was having a wash & wear day…which is NEVER flattering for me. I spend 20-30 min. a day on my hair. Once it’s shot, I don’t show my face in public unless I absolutely have to. Sweat and humidity are my enemies. So I have to exercise first thing in the AM or last thing in the PM…which often means it doesn’t get done.

  • Long-haired man

    This isn’t just a girl thing either. I’m a white guy with very fine, curly hair that goes frizzy at the first drop of sweat or humidity. I wear it long, because it suits me better that way and it helps control the frizz, too.

    However, If I go to the gym in the morning I have to wash my hair there, which takes extra time plus I have to carry heaps of hair products around with me all day (in my backpack, because I don’t have a car) – also not a very good look for a guy. However, if I go in the evening I still have to carry the hair products, plus I’m tired and that makes me prone to skip the gym… not to mention I then have to go to bed with wet hair.

  • runchoose

    As a woman with shoulder-length hair that barely ties into a ponytail, I do wonder whether I should just chop it all off (only to have to maintain that look every few weeks) so I don’t have to worry about wild strands peeled to my face as I fling my head back and forth for yoga.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rebecca.hogue.mott Rebecca

    When I decided to take up running earlier this year, my hairdo was a major issue; especially during this hot and humid southern heat. Bottom line, I decided that having a less than perfect do was worth my health’s sacrifice! I am still wearing relaxers and have recently considered going natural. Whatever I do with my hair, I will not let it be a barrier to my good health!

  • mc fitzpatrick

    I pull it back in a ponytail or braid. Wash and condition when done exercising. Finger comb pull it back and go. Summer, winter, spring and fall. I would never think of not experiencing because of my hair.

  • mc fitzpatrick

    I pull it back in a ponytail or braid. Wash and condition when done exercising. Finger comb pull it back and go. Summer, winter, spring and fall. I would never think of not exercising because of my hair.

  • Nan

    I plan my hair appointments around my workouts. I have really curly hair, and every few appointments she likes to straighten it to check the cut. I try to workout Friday before the appointment, schedule the week so that Saturday is my day off, and then workout Sunday after I’m done with the straight hair. I do the same thing when she colors it.

    It works for me.

  • dalastime

    @kini…I agree with you ponytails are a GODSEND. Right now with it being so hot here in Houston and working out five times a week. A ponytail is my best friend…LOL

  • Ann

    Thank you @drudaniels. I wore kinky twist styles for 8 yrs – no problem exercising. At that time, my hair was approx 10” – 11” long. My hair is very soft. I’ve always had issues with shrinkage but it was not a problem because I had length. Now my hair is approx 4” long after discovering an unauthorized haircut when I took out the last kinky twist style 1 yr ago. My hair is healthy and ANY moisture, whether sweat, fog, or cloudy day shrinks it down to 1” now. Blow drying it after every workout was damaging my hair and frankly, call it what you will, I am not ready for the 1” look. I have not used chemical strengtheners for over 8 yrs and do not plan to return.Lack of regular exercise is very obvious now and I miss the workouts. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

  • Janine

    if you use this excuse and its not the same day you got your hair done, It seems like you must not really want to workout that much, and any excuse would suffice. i mean are people just not washing their hair for a week? I workoout like 5 6 days a week and I wash my hair about the same amount, thats when dry shampoo is great. But I mean, get over it, work out then take the time to do your hair and makeup. Who wouldn’t want to look there best face wise and bodywise, right?

  • http://thabeautytips.blogspot.com Emma james

    Wow, really? Ethnic hair? That’s kind of ummm….racist? I’m sure white people NEVER use their hair as an excuse either. oh wait? they do too! A little offended by this article…

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  • Zgrullon

    I don’t get my hair done BECAUSE of the gym! It’s a waste of my money!!