Hair Care Tips for African American Women who Exercise

Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images

Though adopting a consistent exercise routine can improve overall health, its daily implementation can also be a challenge. For some black women, for example, the challenge lies in maintaining a stylish hairstyle while engaging in regular physical activity. According to a survey of 103 black women conducted by the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, almost one-third of those surveyed worried that exercise would negatively affect their hairstyles. With careful planning, however, having both stylish hair and a healthy body can be possible.

Consider Natural Hairstyles

Because of its naturally coiled shape, black hair tends to be dry and requires less-frequent washing than other hair types. However, when exposed to chlorine or sweat, the hair needs to be washed more regularly to avoid the buildup of impurities and to keep it from becoming too dry. One option for those who do not want to expose their hair to heat damage from frequent flat ironing is to consider natural hairstyles. Unlike straight styles, natural or curly hairstyles require minimal styling after washing. For a fuss-free look, consider wearing an afro or putting hair in a bun or curly ponytail.

Wear Protective Styles

Similar to natural or curly hairstyles, protective styles are a low-maintenance choice for those who engage in frequent physical activity. Protective hairstyles include braids, cornrows and any other hairstyle that does not need to be manipulated after washing. Because these styles require little manipulation, they can help minimize the breakage that typically occurs with frequent styling. Women who wear protective styles also save time, which may be an important factor for those who exercise before work or during their lunch breaks.

Short Hairstyles

Short hairstyles are another option for physically active black women. Whether heat-treated, relaxed or natural, short styles require less time than longer alternatives -- and short hair can also be frequently washed and styled without breakage being an issue. Short styles may also be ideal for those who wish to avoid the more casual look of the exercise-friendly ponytail. Whether it be carefully placed curls or a modern shape, with a short hairstyle, the physically active black woman can create a polished and sophisticated look in minutes.

Plan Strategically

With strategic planning, black women can incorporate any hairstyle into a regular fitness routine. For example, some black women wear simple hairstyles when exercising during the workweek and save straight or more elaborate hairstyles for the weekend. Others use exercising sessions to improve the health of their hair by deep conditioning in the sauna or using moisturizing conditioners during frequent washes. When adopting a fitness routine, some women also eat healthier, which can directly benefit hair health and appearance. Ultimately, with careful planning, fitness and stylish hair do not have to be in conflict.