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Hair Concerns May Discourage Exercise for Some Black Women
Date:12/18/2012

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Dec. 17 (HealthDay News) -- For black women, a desire to protect expensive and often fragile hairstyles can be a barrier to exercise, new research suggests.

The finding is gleaned from responses to a small poll conducted among roughly 100 U.S. black women. The upshot: At one time or another, about 40 percent said they have avoided running, swimming and other gym-related endeavors out of concern for their hairdo.

"There are a lot of barriers to getting enough exercise among men and women of all ethnicities, including finding time, meeting child care needs, and cost and safety," said study author Dr. Amy McMichael, a professor in the department of dermatology at the Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C. "But we found that hair concerns among African-American women is itself a real issue that needs to be added to the list."

"Now I'm not saying that this isn't also a concern among other ethnicities," added McMichael, also the department's interim chair. "I'm sure it is. But like everybody, African-American women want to have hair that they feel is acceptable on a daily basis. 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."

"So this investigation," she explained, "is meant to open up a discussion about the practical obstacles we face in getting African-American women and all women of all ethnicities -- many of whom are coming in overweight and with early hypertension [high blood pressure] and diabetes -- involved in a healthier lifestyle that involves exercise."

McMichael and her colleagues discuss their findings in the Dec. 17 online issue of the Archives of Dermatology.

The authors say that it's long been observed that black women, as a group, are the least likely to adhere to routine exercise guidelines issued by the U.S. C
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