I have seen this statistic on every website there is on the Internet. For articles to say ‘hair concerns’ keep 40% of African-American women from working out I cannot say I’m not surprised. You spend $60-$100 getting your hair done at the salon every two weeks and don’t want to sweat it out. However, hair has got to stop being a factor when discussing African-American women and fitness. A special report on ‘Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Obesity’ stated that compared to White adults, African-American adults are nearly 1.5 times as likely to be obese. Approximately 47.8% of African Americans are obese and of that percentage 56.6% are women while 371.% are men. With these statistics why aren’t African-American taking their fitness life more serious? Here are a few reasons that further explain the inequities of obesity and other health related issues in African-American women..access to affordable and healthy food, limited access to a safe place to workout and knowledge of living a healthy lifestyle. In addition, being provided resources that educate African-American women on how to be healthy on a budget and how to workout with a busy schedule are areas that many fitness professionals seek to conquer. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER and once we instill that into our communities, African-American can be equipped to alter statistics that reflect poor health and fitness choices.
I have invited Maiah Holbrook, a Dallas based fitness instructor and nutritionist to weigh in on African-American women and working out. Below is what she said:
Black Women? What is the first thing that comes to mind? For me it’s my mom and my grandmothers, its hard-work, love and dedication. But working out or exercising wouldn’t be the first, second, third or fourth thing that comes to my mind. Was it yours? More than likely it wasn’t, and that’s a major problem. Honestly, why though? Why do exercise and black women seem to not go together? I can only answer for myself and from my experiences. Growing up I had many amazing black women in my life who taught a plethora of things that didn’t include exercise or health. All of the black women I knew were too busy with work, family, church and maintaining their hair between visits to the salon. There would be new health fads or workouts I would see my mom and her friends try together and then slowly stop. Growing up I only saw black women as athletes, not people who participated in a healthy lifestyle. There weren’t major campaigns for black women to be healthy, no avenues for them to follow to get healthy. The lack of a support system is why I believe black women don’t workout. As a health and wellness professional this is something I plan to change! Black women are the backbones of their families; they have the power to completely change the black community. I want to arm black women the knowledge of how to lead a healthy lifestyle through Nutrition and Exercise. I want them to know that self-care is just another way of loving and supporting their families by ensuring they are the best versions of themselves. As a young black woman I am genetically predisposed to diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis. My workout focus is combat all three, I incorporate high intensity to burn fat and train my heart. I do 3-4 days of weight training to build muscle to keep my bones strong. I go to the gym not to look good, but to feel good and stay healthy for years to come. Movements like Black Girls Run and Black Girls Workout Too are the mainstream campaigns that were missing when I was growing up. These movements promote a healthy lifestyle specifically to black women. My mom joined a running club two years ago and has made amazing progress, just think of how different things will be as these movements grow. Black women are amazing but we can’t be expected to get fit and healthy on our own. These movements are the support we need to make Black Women and Exercise synonymous.
There are many young African-American fitness professionals like myself and Maiah that strive to influence others to learn how to be healthy and not just fit. There have been so many young African-American ladies getting into the fitness industry and I am certain that statistics that say hair keeps black women from working out or that black women don’t like to workout at all will become taboo. It is my hope to encourage all African-American women to develop healthy lifestyle habits that they can pass on to others, but it starts with themselves first.
We can soon let the world know that Black Girls Workout Too!