A government study shows that African American women are 70% more likely to be obese than white women. As intriguing as this statistic seems, the reasons for it are equally as interesting. Factors including time, money and even hair contribute to keeping some black women out of the gym.

Nikki Kimbrough is a celebrity fitness expert who says, “The number one excuse is ‘what am I going to do with my hair,’ and I can relate because I’m a black woman myself and I have the same issue”.

In Nikki’s fitness class, the women are of a variety of races and have a range of hair textures. Three black women from her class battle with issues about their hair, but make a consistent effort to get to the gym. Adrienne Lynch, one of Nikki’s clients, is a black woman that, in the past, let her hair keep her from going to the gym.

“When I come and work out, my hair would shrink down and get all ratty so I didn’t want to come work out, I got some extensions because I can come in, sweat, throw it up in a pony tail and it doesn’t matter, it dries right out,” claims Lynch.

Chanelle Blakely is a black woman that can’t take braids. “I don’t have the patience for the sitting … I just structure my wash-and-sets around my exercise classes”, she says.

Teresa DaLuze, who is biracial, finds her hair is less of an obstacle. “I have a wash and go type of hairdo,” she states. DaLuze says when she is working out her hair is “puffy” but once she washes it, it looks fine. But even with the “wash and go” hairdo she still encounters problems, when she wants to wear her hair straight.

For a lot of black women, getting your hair done is not cheap. “Even doing my natural hair it’s eighty-five dollars to put in some corn rolls or put in a curly fro,” says Lynch.

Blakely feels that more white women work out because she feels white men are more attracted to thin frames and black men tend to prefer women with a little more curves.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, four out of five African American women are overweight or obese which increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and many other aliments.

In addition to hair and money, a big roadblock to hitting the gym is time. With the economic downturn, many African American women have more responsibilities and finding time to work out is difficult, but as these four African American women have shown, you don’t have to put your beauty second to have your health come first.

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