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Are hair woes causing some people to avoid exercise?

Purchasing used exercise equipment is one way many people fight the urge to avoid exercising. After all, having a treadmill, stationary bike or other piece of equipment in your home makes it easy and convenient to find time to work out.

But a new study finds a lack of convenience isn't the only thing keeping some women away from the gym. Researchers from Wake Forest School of Medicine say fears of messing up their hair is a commonly-cited reason many African-American women steer clear of physical activity.

According to HealthDay News, researchers polled more than 100 black women about their hair care and exercise programs. They found that as many as 40 percent have avoided running, swimming and other gym-related endeavors out of concern for their hairdo.

"Like everybody, African-American women want to have hair that they feel is acceptable on a daily basis," study author Dr. Amy McMichael told the news source. "And whether it's straight-styled, heat-styled or chemical-styled, coarse and curly hair is not something that is easily handled, especially when it gets wet."

McMichael added that simply washing and drying their hair after exercising often isn't an option for those with certain hair types.  Instead, many would have to go through the whole chemical or straightening process again, which can take hours and cause the hair to weaken and break.

The study also found that more than a quarter of those surveyed said they didn't exercise at all. Additionally, about a third admitted they exercise less than they'd like because of their hair, and half reported they have considered changing their tresses for exercise.

Fox News reports that the women who avoided exercise because of their hair were almost three times less likely to meet the recommended physical activity guidelines. Health experts suggest adults get at least 150 minutes per week of physical activity in order to maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases such as hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers.

Researchers say previous studies have shown that 77 percent of black women are overweight or obese.

Scientists admit finding a solution to this problem isn't easy. However, putting one's health first should be a priority.

"Some women might want to try and plan to be more active at times before they're about to style their hair, and maybe less so right after it's done," Duke University professor Gary Bennett told HealthDay News. "Because in the end, it comes down to helping women balance their lifestyle needs with an interest in being healthy. And sometimes that requires a little bit of a trade-off."

 

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