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Curly Nikki

F.A.Q.- Exercise Hair

By January 27th, 202134 Comments

The FAQ below was originally posted in March of this year. I thought I’d bring it out of hiding with Fall approaching–changing seasons always bring about new found motivation, right?!

Anyway, since posting this in March, and reading your comments in July, I’ve implemented a new workout routine and eating regimen. I’m not trying to lose weight, so I do moderate cardio 3 days a week (Wed., Fri., Sun. on the treadmill), and light toning (free weights and ball) nearly every day. This routine works out for my beauty (hair!) rituals too in that I do my hair on Sunday afternoons, and the set looks great through Wednesday, when I pull it up and start hitting the treadmill.

A sneak peak into my diet would reveal:


  • Bob’s Red Mill 5 Grain Rolled Whole Grain Oats (I love the texture of this oatmeal!) flavored with Organic Apple Butter
  • Fruit (usually a banana, or kiwi…lately Pomegranate arils!)


  • Almond Breeze (unsweetened)Almond milk with a bowl of high fiber cereal and fruit


  • Chicken breast sandwich, or (boneless, skinless) chicken thigh salad, or cold cut sandwich, or chicken stuffed pita, or Healthy Choice soup, or leftovers from the night before
  • Baked Lays or pretzels


  • Lean meat prepared on the Foreman (salmon, chicken, beef, hell even pork, LOL, I love meat!
  • Frozen veggies and brown rice

The above dinner only happens once or twice a week. I usually end up eating out at a Sushi or Indian spot. I also do frozen meals from time to time. My favorite at the moment–Ethnic Gourmet’s Chicken Tikka Masala. If you’re a connoisseur of Indian food, you must try this dish! I’ve been eyeing it for a while, and decided to buy it a few days ago. It smelled delicious while it cooked but all (bland) frozen meals do. EVERYTHING about it was perfect–the sauce, white meat chicken, and rice. There are no additives or artificial ingredients, and it is minimally processed. Yesterday, I went to my fav Indian restaurant and bought naan, and samosas to go with it!

I eat several of the following in between meals: fruit, pumpkin seeds, Craisins, Stretch Island Fruit (the best fruit snack at the store–no additives, sugar comes from real fruit!), organic jerky, Kashi bfast bars, dark chocolate squares, ginger snaps, yogurt, hummus and pita or fresh veggies. And on occasion, I’ll have a half cup of cookies and cream ice cream!!

Lots of water, herbal teas, and green tea.

I do my best to stick to the above menu items. I fall off the wagon at least once a week and stop at Wendy’s…sometimes Bojangles too…hey, it’s a work in progress and definitely better than where I was last March!

Please list your favorite healthy meal ideas and exercise routines. We’ve gotta keep our bodies looking as tight as our hair! Your comment may inspire the next curly :)


I’ve looked around your site pretty extensively but I haven’t seen any articles discussing exercise and natural hair. I work 3 jobs, go to school, and hit the gym 5 days a week. I have to get in that gym visit whenever I can and of course it messes up any hair-do I may have been wearing or any hair-do that I may have been anticipating. Do you or any of your followers have information that might make this whole thing easier? Any ideas would be appreciated.

Thank you,

I’m the last person you’d find at the gym. To be honest, I hate to sweat. I know that sounds crazy…and it is :-) But its very true! To combat my unwillingness to workout, I do my best to eat healthy (I’m doing really good with this), and walk when I can (I park my car far away from entrances to grocery stores and malls).

I impulsively bought a treadmill last year and used it for several months. I’d walk (not jog or run, lol) 3 miles, 5 days a week. To prevent sweating out a style, I’d wear my hair in a high bun, and let it loose on the weekends. This worked out well, and grew my hair out quite a bit! But of course, that got old, and now my treadmill sits folded up in the corner of my bedroom collecting dust. The 5 day bun routine proved convenient, and if I got too sweaty, I’d take the bun down, water rinse, and throw it back up there :)

I’m opening this question up to the comments of others. Help her out!


  • Leah says:

    I work out 6 days a week and have found (2) different methods that work for me:

    When I had a relaxer – I would part my hair down the middle and put it in (2) side ponytails w/ satin covered rubber bands. Allowed my hair to air dry, then oil, and wrap.

    Now that I am natural – I work with my texture. I rinse/condition my hair every night after a work-out, add nexxus leave in conditioner, put my hair in an lose ponytail up high, then a satin scarf. In the morning, I rinse again, then add mixed chicks, and curly pudding to slick back my edges.

    I have done (3) henna treatments and LOVE the way it has loosened/thickened my 3a/3b thick texture. Every (2) weeks I go to my stylist who shampoos & flat irons my hair. This is the only time I use shampoo & my hair responds well – as it has grown like weeds since I stopped stripping moisture by shampooing every (3) days.

  • LBell says:

    I guess I'm the oddball: When I'm in the gym just doing cardio or strength work I don't really sweat in my head all that much. Usually I'm there first thing in the morning so my hair is in its protective style from the night before: large twists or plaits which I cover with a cotton bandanna. I haven't had any problems.

    Bikram yoga is another story. No matter how my hair is styled I usually have to at least rinse it afterwards.

    And I agree with KyaDiva about preferring good sex to cute hair. I love my hair, and I love taking care of it, but COME ON…life (and sex) is meant to be enjoyed!

  • Anonymous says:

    I swim & run and I do 2 french twists (one along each side of my head). Or I just wear my twists. I haven't gotten to the point where I have a "regimen" like it seems many people here have. So I've never really given much thought to hair + workout. Most of the time I wear a fro – so wash-n-go. If I wear twists, I rinse my head (esp after swimming) or wet my hands and rub my scalp.
    It's too tiring to re-do hair after every workout so if I know I'll workout I've started just keeping the twists and styling with those instead of a twistout. I did a twistout today…will swim later this week but will wash out. Oh well…

  • KyaDiva says:

    Braids are the easiest for me. Cornrows with extensions lasts, you can run you head under the shower with them, if you get really sweaty- my favorite. When it is just my hair – cornrows or flat twists in the front and the a puff in the back. I don't have enough for a decent ponytail just yet. There are a lot of different way you can have them going so you aren't stressing the same spots on your hairline. As far as sex is concerned, I rather have good sex than cute hair. I don't know why anybody would be that worried about it, unless you have a major event the next day.

  • AuthenticQueen says:

    I exercise about 4-5 times a week and my regiment includes just pulling my hair back with a hair band while exercising. I also deep condition 2x a week usually Wednesday and Saturday. If I need to I will also wash with conditioner and warm water in between that. My hair has adjusted to the exercising and I really do not have any issues with itchy scalp or anything (anymore).

  • Olive_Honey says:

    I try to drink flavored or seltzer water,
    it taste alot better going down. If I only have plain water available then I eat a few salty nuts to make myself thirsty enough to want to drink more water. I have pretty much given up drinking diet soda too.
    Nikki it's great that you are taking the proper measures not only for healthy hair on the outside but also what you are putting on the inside as well.
    Nice going.
    As always, your blog rocks.

  • totallytwisted<3 says:

    totally unrelated… but exercising and eating right also helps your hair grow faster, thicker, shinier, and healthier… Keep up the good work ladies

  • KeetaRay says:

    I usually wear puffs when working out, and since I go to the gym for maintenance I only go about 3xs per week. I still need to do better w/my water intake. I've been struggling w/that for what seems like FOREVER! I have given up soda, though and other than water I'll drink tea or cranberry/apple juice. My food selections are getting better! Even when I do go to get fast food I try to get the healthiest thing they have on the menu, but I try to prepare my own foods more often.

  • Anonymous says:

    My last relaxer was May 2009 and I'm transitioning out. I've been getting my hair rodded. I think I'm a 4a. Anyhooo I work out 5 days a week and sweat in the head big time – thus making rodding obsolete. My hair is not long enough to put into a bun or ponytail and I'm not ready for the BC. What do I do? Cornrows, perhaps?

  • Anonymous says:

    I can't believe that people are talking about working out, sweating buckets, and NOT washing their hair afterward!! You definitely cannot keep that salt from the sweat in your hair!! It's damaging, plus it smells. I always cowash afterward, and I workout 3 days a week. I use Mixed Chicks leave-in, pull it back with a nice head band and I have nice defined curls for the day. And if you're wondering I have 3c/4a type hair.

  • Natural Journey says:

    I am in the process of transitioning to natural hair and am also on a lifestyle makeover journey that includes lots of cardio and Bikram yoga, which make me sweat a lot. To deal with both of these things I have found cute and feminine cornrow ponytails to be my saving grace. I plan to get kinky twists for the first time in two weeks, so I hope those turn out nice and help me with my transition and exercise. Peace and blessings.

  • Bekka says:

    Hey I’m a Zumba addict now too (for the last 5 months). The sweat from working out and/or sex is just something you learn to deal with. During workouts, put it up in a pony or bun and leave it there til you shower. Then style for the night. However if you give the “green light” (lol) then you are just gonna have to restyle in the AM. There’s nothing wrong with having a wild night and having tame hair the next day. ;)

  • Media Moll says:

    Anon @ 1:13 I have a no hands on the hair rule and I use a satin pillow case, which I am constantly adjusting! But it’s better than a bonnet, which was recently described as “granny panties”!

  • Analog_girl says:

    I run and/or lift weights 6 mornings per week and sweat a lot. My scalp gets VERY itchy if I don’t rinse daily or every other day, so I usually rinse afterward and wear a shrunken ‘fro or puff. In winter or if I’m wearing a style I don’t want to mess up, I spritz my scalp with a water/essential oils/leave-in conditioner mixture, massage in gently and go.

  • Anonymous says:

    Also, what do you girls do when it comes to sex(seual intercourse if u want to be technical) because I havent seen anyone really talk about that. I guess going to the gym would be similar to this situation but sometimes its very stressful if I have just styled my hair 3 days ago or 2 and I want to..U KNOW.. without messing it up all over again, especially when I have work the next day!! Ne one else have this problem??

  • naturalhair58 says:

    I work out 4-5 times per week. Mostly in the evening, but early afternoon on Saturday. Working out and being able to take care of my hair was one of the reasons I went natural. I really sweat during Spinning and Zumba, so I put my twist-out back with a hair band made for working out that I purchased from Ulta. I condish one night a week or ACV and moisturize, retwist one night during the week-usually Wednesday. The other nights, I just spray Frank’s Juice and retwist wih larger twists, and I sleep in my bonnet from Sally’s. On Saturday, I Low Poo, apply DT wear a plastic cap then cover with a hat that I wear to the gym. It’s the best deep treatment. When I come home I complete my routine. It has been more convenient for me to work out with natural hair, then it was when my hair was relaxed. Sorry this is soooo long. My fav products now are the Oyin products.

  • Nika says:

    I’m with Nikki. I don’t get a hard workout much! Not because I don’t like to sweat but because working out is pure torture to me. I HATE it. But when I do workout the humidity, sweat, etc does wonders for my hair so I don’t have any advice. My hair loves it.

  • Zhara says:

    I workout for a living, so what i do is keep my hair in a protective style while I’m teaching fitness during the week. After my workouts I apply conditioner to the style and then rinse, massaging the scalp to rinse out the sweat. The top hair does get a little frizzy by the time the weekend comes for me to style out, but its a good sacrifice to make for your body and health! nothing a scarf or hat cant fix lol

  • Shake says:

    i dance more days out of the week than not. when i go to a rehearsal that i know will involve sweating i simply pull my hair back out of my face (no scrunchy just lean my head back) and tie a satin scarf around it until AFTER my shower…i also may change scarves after practice so that i don’t have to have the sweaty scarf for a long time after practice. keeps my wash and goes, twist outs, and twists pretty nice… leaving it out w/o even with a bun results in frizz. i only do that if i know i’m going to wash or rinse that night.

  • Natashamck says:

    I work out every day except Thursday, and on 3 out of the 6 days that I work out I sweat BUCKETS! It is impossible for me to wear my hair down during a workout because #1 It gets super duper tangled and #2 It’s freakin hot having all of that hair on your neck. Usually while I work out my hair is in a bun or pony puff.

    Because I work out so often, I rarely wear my hair down. Maybe on a Friday night… but then I work out Saturday Mornings so it’s really pointless because it gets ruined again. Wish I had better advice to offer…

  • jeniusj says:

    I find the style created with the bantu knots keeps really well. Sweating just makes the hair closer to your head puff up more, but the ends and the length of the curls typically stay put.

    Also, I second Jay’s advice and love working out while keeping my conditioner in my hair…

  • Anonymous says:

    @jay.. that’s a great idea. thank you for your suggestion! i will try that too!

  • Mzbush says:

    I prefer not to co-wash everyday because my hair dries out if I do. I wouldn’t mind rocking some twists to the gym but when I undo my twists that are still wet, I lose my wave/curl definition and it defeats the whole purpose of twisting my hair in the first place. I could blowdry my twists but this never comes out as nice as if I let them air dry. I’ve been doing the bun or high ponytail thing but I just get tired of looking like a youngin every day, not to mention the pressure it is putting on my hairline. I like Wes’s headband idea, Shana’s tea tree idea, Jay’s DT heat cap idea (even though I’m not sure how fresh I’ll look trying to pull that off at the gym), and de-frizzing a little with some shea butter after taking out twists. Like Wes said, I like a little fluffiness but I don’t want to go to the extreme and look like a fur ball. I’m excited to try some of these ideas. Thank you to everyone for your help!!

  • mothereartha says:

    i haven’t found an answer to this and i sweat profusely. that’s one reason i just cut all my hair off.

  • Media Moll says:

    So if you work out say 4-5 days a week do you end up cowashing every day? I personally feel like my hair doesn’t like a lot of manipulation/water, so I would end up having to retwist my hair daily. My issue with ponytails is that once I take my hair down it’s stretched out and limp. I used to just deal with it, but now that I am really serious about my hair and will probably be in the gym at least four days a week I don’t know what to do. I think I will try Naturally Leslie’s suggestion on Thursday. Tomorrow is yoga so I should be fine I only sweat profusely during cardio or Bikram, which had me in cornrows.

  • Anonymous says:

    I work out in the evening and shampoo/condish/style then dry a little under my dryer. The next morning I use a styling serum like BioSilk or Silk Infusion and style. I mist my hair a little in the morning and go!

  • SheaPT says:

    I certainly know how you feel!! I’m a Personal Trainer and I piratically LIVE in the gym (be it working out or working with clients). I’ve found two styles tha work well for me. I either pull my hair up into a loose ponytail/Afro-poof (with a little raw shea butter for moisture) or I put my hair in two French braids (one going down each side of my head). When I get home I take my hair down hop in the shower and co-wash. My hair seems do very well with this as long as I don’t put my ponytail or braids too tight.

  • Anonymous says:

    I don’t work either, but I’m gonna get Wii fitness, but K.I.S.S has good advice for that too!

  • Naturally Sophia says:

    I know I am biased, but would have the answer! LOL! It is your natural hair. I swim several times a week with no problems even in the winter.

  • balancingharmony says:

    I sweat alot…buckets, you could say! before my hair was long enough to be pulled in a low loose ponytail, I would pull it into two low ponytails and slide on a couple of elastic headbands. After working out I would apply shea butter, my normal nightly routine. After which I would tie a scarf around my head like a headband, leaving the ponytails in place. Titi, of Miss Jessie’s Products suggested it on I hope this helps.

  • Shana says:

    When working out I do a high/loose pony tail or a bun. I fix any sweaty after affect by massaging my scalp with tea tree oil(which has an antiseptic effect and kills any bacteria sweating may have caused on your scalp) I also have begun using the steam/mist setting on my showerhead. After applying the tea tree oil I get in the shower do what I have to do then turn on the mister . . . this way I get my hair wet but not drenched. After getting out I apply a bit of conditioner (pantene relaxed and natural conditoner or lustrasilk shea butter cholesterol) then scrunch in some KCCC, put it in a pineapple and go about my routine, which works because I work out in the evenings and have nowhere to go afterwards. The mister is my saving grace . . . I do it on the mornings that my curls need reviving and it adds moisture without soaking the hair . . . it’s my new fav thing!

  • Anonymous says:

    Maybe you should go to the gym when you have a Deep Condish Treatment in… I don’t go to the gym, but I use the Wii Fit at home 4 times a week and when I work out I put deep condish in my hair, put a plastic cap on, tie a satin scarf around it and then a bonnet (I know…!). Some how the heat builds under all of that stuff during my workout, this way I do avoid a heat cap for my DT… I use this same approach when I am doing a hot oil treatment, or right after I wash my hair and I have twisted my hair to let my strands air dry.


  • Unknown says:

    If I wear my hair in a twist-out style, I usually will re-twist the hair, but in larger sections, then pull it up into a bun. If I don’t, I end up with a HUGE fro (which is cool but usually not the look I’m going for with the twist-out!)Any other style like a puff or bun maintains itself. I don’t rinse my hair every time but at least once a week before I restyle. Hope this helps!

  • Wes says:

    Usually when I go to the gym, I pile my hair up high on my head in a loose ponytail. I actually like the “after” effect b/c my sweaty head often makes my hair bigger and fluffier. However, if my hair is straight, I’ll put on a headband (to keep the edges neat and straight), and roll my hair into a neat little bun. I usually don’t take the bun out until I get home, and then I wrap it.
    Luckily, I’m not much of a “sweater”. Hope this helps!

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