Monday, December 17, 2012
Researchers have found that about two out of every five African-American women said that they avoid exercise because of concerns about their hair
"As an African-American woman, I have that problem, and my friends have that problem. So I wondered if my patients had that problem," said Dr. Amy McMichael, a dermatologist at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. McMichael and her colleagues said that hair care can be tedious and costly for African-American women. Rochelle Mosley, who owns Salon 804 in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, said that some of her African-American clients come in once per week to get their hair straightened at a cost of about $40. They may not want to wash their hair more than once a week to keep their hairstyle, and may avoid sweating because of that. To find out if women were putting hair above their health, the researchers surveyed 103 African-American women who came to the dermatology clinic at Wake Forest University in October 2007. They found that more than half of the women were exercising for less than 75 minutes per week, which is less than the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise. That's also less than U.S. women on average, according to a 2007 study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that found about half of all U.S. women were exercising close to 150 minutes per week. More than a quarter of the black women in the new study said that they didn't exercise at all. About a third of the black women said that they exercise less than they'd like because of their hair, and half said that they have considered changing their hair for exercise. McMichael and her colleagues found that women who avoided exercise because of their hair were almost three times less likely to meet the recommended physical activity guidelines. Salon 804's Mosley said that she's not surprised by the findings based on her 22 years in business.