Online Program

Hair care practices and physical activity participation in U.S. Black women

Monday, November 2, 2015

Rebecca Alleyne, M.D., M.H.A., F.A.C.S, Rebecca S. Alleyne M.D., Studio City, CA
Hita Vora, MS, Department of Preventive Medicine, Biostatistics Division, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
LaVonna Lewis, PhD, MPH, Price School of Public Policy, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Studies describe a relation between haircare practices and physical activity (PA) participation in U.S. Black women. [1,2,3]

 Straightened styles (the most commonly worn style) are prone to perspiration damage [5,6]. Styles using natural hair texture or hair extensions are more perspiration-resistant [5,6]. This study quantitatively examines the relationship between hairstyle and PA participation.  

A survey questionnaire on hairstyle practices and exercise routines was distributed electronically to members of three Black women’s organizations nationally from 2010 to 2013. 1347 self-identified U.S. Black women completed the survey. Those reporting no PA participation were excluded (n=222). 1125 women reported leisure time PA participation. PA index score was calculated- reported # days/week engaging in PA x # PA sessions/day x duration of PA sessions 

Participants were grouped by hairstyle- Chemically or heat-straightened texture , no extensions (Group1,n=  472), hair extensions of any texture (Group 2,n= 142 ) and natural texture, no extensions (Group 3,n=  511)  There was an overall significant difference in exercise scores among hairstyle groups (Kurskal-Wallis test, Chi square = 10.31,df=2, P value= 0.006). Pairwise comparisons showed Group 1 had lower exercise index scores compared to both group 3 (P=0.024) and group 2(P=0.023). Comparison of group 2 vs 3 showed no significant difference (P= 0.623).

Difference in education level and employment status  was insignificant(P=0.069 and P=0.500 respectively). Significant associations were observed with age (p=0.002). Age is acknowledged as a possible confounding factor.

Findings indicate use of more perspiration-resistant hairstyles may increase physical activity participation among Black women.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Demonstrate an association between perspiration resistant hairstyles and increased physical activity participation in United States Black women. Design physical activity intervention programs with consideration of haircare as possible barrier. Improve physical activity adherence of Black female participants for whom haircare is a barrier

Keyword(s): Physical Activity, African American

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I'm a board certified surgeon and recent graduate of the University of Southern California's Masters in Health Administration. I have a strong interest in physical activity and preventive health. I designed the survey instrument for the study, recruited participants via social media, worked with the USC Biostatistics Department and wrote the paper up on my own.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.