Tag Archives: workouts

Is your hair preventing you from working out consistently?

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Since the Madam CJ Walker’s straightening tools were invented, working out has conflicted with hair styling and maintenance, for many in the black community. People would straighten their kinks and curls, but any slight moisture on the scalp would cause their precious straight hair to revert back. The time and pain experienced during this process, meant that reverting back so quickly was not an option. Parents would  warn their little girls to look after their hair, to preserve the style for as long as possible. Even playing outside and running around could pose a threat to the hair.  In an 1982 article by Ebony Magazine, reader Pam Proctor recounts the many missed opportunities to swim or participate in sports because her hair would ‘go back’.  Then came the years of relaxers, which, are still going on til this day.  Some subscribed to this notion of ‘sweating out the perm’. This may be why stereotypes have  formed about black women in particular, not participating in swimming.  Not wanting to get their hair or weave wet, has typically been a reason given for avoiding it.  Of course there are always exceptions to the rule, but many of these stereotypes started because of hair..

So how have attitudes changed since then? With access to the internet and the growth of the information age, people are becoming more informed about health and fitness. More of us, from all races and backgrounds are learning about prevention rather than cure. People are taking responsibility for their health and know that a lifetime of dependency on prescription drugs and medicines isn’t their only option.  Unfortunately, certain diseases are attributed more towards people of African descent (type 2 diabetes, certain cancers for instance). Most health problems are connected to poor diet and a lack of physical activity, Staying active is a huge step towards taking control of your health and breaking the cycle of disease.

Hair should be the last thing that prevents you from working out. For those who don’t want to be another stereotype or statistic; here are some tips on staying motivated to workout and not allowing your hair to get in the way.

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Plan your hairstyles around your working out, not the other way around

After styling your hair in a fresh twist out or spending an uncomfortable night with your hair in flexi-rods, the last thing you want to do is go to the gym and sweat profusely. A fresh new hairstyle can instantly switch your mind off workout mode. However, you could workout Monday to Friday and do a new style for the weekend. Consider flat ironing your hair as a treat rather than a necessity. Even if you regularly flat-iron, you can still wear curly and wavy styles, don’t be so hung up on achieving that bone straight look all the time.  You could even plan your styles around certain workouts that aren’t as strenuous. If it’s cardio day tomorrow, keep the hair in a bun, but if it’s weights day, your hair should not get too frizzy. If you have a special occasion coming up, you could prep your hair after your workout, and it will be ready for the event the next day.

Find your workout hair style

This depends on how you are styling your hair for the week. A protective style is probably the easiest style to manage when working out. Two strand twists, pinned up or put into a ponytail, work well. I prefer to put my hair in a puff, as it is the most convenient style for me.  If I want to preserve a twist out or curly style, I work out with my hair in a loose pineapple. Go for a style that keeps the ends of your hair away from your neck and off your forehead, so they remain dry. If your ends remain dry, your twist-out will still be somewhat evident, even if the roots become a little damp or frizzy.  I also find wash and gos hold up well when working out. To maintain a wash and go, I put my hair in low pigtails. Then I take them down when I am finished, give the hair a little shake, and I am ready to go.african-american-woman-running-400x295-300x295

Keep your hair up for as long as possible, after a workout

Unless you are taking your hair down to wash, perhaps leave it in a puff or pineapple. This will prevent your ends from becoming frizzy while your scalp dries.  It will also keep the hair taut at the roots so your hair is more stretched when it is taken down.

Avoid working out with your scarf or bonnet on

Sweating helps to regulate your body temperature by removing excess heat. We usually lose a lot of heat from our head. A scarf may cause you to retain more heat during a workout, as the heat is restricted from escaping. It is important that your scalp remains breathable, so the body does not become overheated. This can end up having a negative impact on your workout overall. If you want to keep your hair sleek, spray your hair with a mist of water after your workout, and then put the scarf on to sleek the hair and edges down. After 15 minutes or so, the hair will appear sleeker once the scarf is removed. From my experience wearing a scarf while working out never really prevented my hair from becoming frizzy anyway.

Practice co-washing more frequently

If you are working out during the week you will want to wash your hair more frequently. Many would want to avoid exposing their hair to frequent shampooing because of the drying effect this can have. Frequent co-washing is considered kinder to the hair and even moisturizing. Wash and gos may also work well for this reason. Check out the post: Stretching and styling your hair after washing for convenient styling ideas.


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Focus on the benefits of working out

Frizzy hair is not as serious as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, stress or depression. Just a few health issues exercise has been proven to prevent or treat. The hair challenges that exercise may present, are minor in relation to the benefits. Such benefits will not be seen unless you workout consistently and make it a lifestyle rather than just a New Year fad. People who exercise also have a longer life expectancy and generally are better off physically and mentally. Besides, when you take care of your body, your hair and skin will thank you for it!

We have all been guilty of it at some point. How do you manage your hair when working out? Share your tips below.

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My Workout Essentials

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Here’s what I need for a good workout.

Music

Good music makes all the difference. If my iPod isn’t charged I have to reschedule my workout time. Sometimes a good song comes on just when you feel like giving up and you find the energy from somewhere to keep going! Here’s my random selection of songs I like to play when working out.

Top five workout songs:

  1. Jackson 5 – Can you feel it?
  2. Rocky Soundtrack – Gonna Fly Now
  3. Rocky Soundtrack – Eye of the Tiger
  4. En Vogue –  Hold on
  5. Jackson 5 – Dancing Machine

Favourite piece of gym equipment

I’m not a big fan of the gym because I hate the treadmill. Personally, I find it extremely mundane and I don’t particularly like doing weights either as I’m scared of bulking up. Although light weights are fine and don’t really cause you to bulk up I prefer to do resistance training with my own body weight (push ups, squats, sit ups ). This is something I can do at home.  However, the only reason I visit the gym is to use my favourite piece of gym equipment, the Cross/Elliptical Trainer.

When I first tried this machine I was hooked. It provides a simulated running experience without the high impact. It is sort of like running through the air.  It works the same leg muscles that cycling does. However, because you are also rotating your arms on the machine and using your core to remain balanced, it works the whole body.  When I used to go jogging I would get a recurring pain in my left knee. This was due to the fact that jogging is a high impact exercise that puts pressure on the joints . However with the Cross/Elliptical, there is hardly any pressure on your joints and back so there is less chance of injury.  Nevertheless, it still provides the benefits of high impact exercise such as strengthening your bones.

To be frank this machine is pretty easy to work on. You really do feel like you are getting a good work out and it causes you to sweat! However it doesn’t feel as tiring as jogging does. This is due to the fact that is low impact and puts less strain on the body. This is why you could probably work out for longer on this machine and burn more calories.  When I use it I stay on it for 45 minutes. I usually have it at level 10 and have it on the random setting. This gives me a varied workout with various peaks and troughs. I usually burn 450 calories, not bad! I would certainly recommend trying this machine.

Favourite workout DVD

I first ordered Billy Blanks Tae Bo DVD when I was really looking for something other than the gym or jogging outside. If you stick to the same thing you become bored with exercising.  The good thing about using workout DVDs is that there are always new ones to try.  Tae Bo is fun and challenging at the same time. Billy really knows how to motivate and encourage you. You find each DVD gets easier as you do them regularly, then its time to move on to a new one. In saying that the DVD that involve a lot of floor work (abs, back, leg etc) are extremely challenging and I haven’t quite mastered those ones yet. I prefer jumping around as opposed to lying on the floor working on your 100th sit up! That was probably a slight exaggeration but that’s what it feels like.

What are your work out essentials? Share in the comments below.

References: munfitnessblog.com

livestrong.com