Speak Up Sister: Black Women, Hair and Exercise–A Much-Needed Survey

Just a little while back, I posted a blog post “Are you too fly to be fit?” (Click the link here to read it.) In that blog post, I included a link to a short post on Facebook by a Sister-Physician, and do you know, she actually contacted me?! It was pretty exciting, I must confess.

The sister’s name is Dr. Rebecca Alleyne who is conducting a research project on Black women, hair, and exercise. (Once you scroll down, you will see her extremely cute picture.)

Dr. Rebecca is a bad (meaning good) Sister. And she needs Black women’s help for her research. Read on (below) to see how sassy she is and everything she’s done and will do. And click here for the link to the survey.

Now, before you Sisters say to yourselves, “I do not have time for this. I have lots of stuff to do, and that does not include filling out a survey,” think about what I said in my blog post, “Sister, Love Thyself” about taking time to take care of yourself.

When have you ever known a doctor to only be interested in Black women—to do something that would help only Black women? Let me tell y’all, this is a very rare occurrence and an extraordinary one, and frankly, I feel pretty special that Dr. Rebecca contacted me. And I feel grateful to her for wanting to do something to help out Black women.

So read on and find out all about Dr. Rebecca Alleyne and her incredible work. You know you want to!

And please don’t forget to pass the word on to other Sisters. And if you are not Black or a woman, please pass the word on to a Black woman you do know, and you will be appreciated. In fact, I appreciate you already–seriously and with so much love.

If you are a Black woman, not only should we Sisters be loving ourselves individually, we should be loving each other collectively. And sometimes, sending along good information is the best way to love somebody. Believe that.


Dr. Rebecca Alleyne


“Survey on Black Women, Hair, and Fitness”

…………..by Dr. Rebecca Alleyne


My name is Rebecca Alleyne and I’m a board certified physician.   I’m a breast cancer surgeon by training, but I’ve developed a strong interest in preventive health over the last few years. You may wonder why a breast cancer specialist is interested in exercise.  Recently several studies were published linking exercise habits and risk of breast cancer.  There are also studies linking body fat content and breast cancer risk, particularly after menopause.

This year I am conducting a research project on Black women, hair and exercise.   The study is a survey of Black women, their hair care habits and their exercise habits.  It’s 13 questions altogether and should take about 7 minutes to complete.  My goal is to get at least 1000 responses to the survey.  More would be even better as larger numbers mean more powerful evidence of trends.

I’m interested in “the hair thing” because of my own behavior.  When my hair is in a higher maintenance style, whether straightened, kinky, or using extensions, I don’t work out as much.  Many Black women I know report the same thing. I was curious about this.

I looked all over the National Library of Medicine and I couldn’t find a single published study on the topic.  Since I could not find a good study, I figured I’d just do one myself.  The study is a small epidemiology study that I am funding completely on my own.  There are no pharmaceutical or hair care companies involved. This is truly a grassroots effort.

Besides being a physician, I am enrolled in a Masters in Health Administration program at the University of Southern California that begins August 2011.  I plan to use the university’s resources to do the final statistical analysis and get the results published in a peer-reviewed journal.

This may not pan out, there may be no link between hair maintenance and exercise.  But I have a hunch it will.  And the only way to find out is to ask a lot of Black women some questions.

What good will that do? My hope is it will encourage women to be aware of how our beauty habits affect our exercise routines, and consequently our health.

I want every woman to find a fitness routine she loves and a hairstyle of any type that allows her to engage in that routine with no restrictions.

If you have Black female friends or family members who may be interested in completing the survey I would greatly appreciate it if you would forward this survey to them.  The more Black women answer the questions the more accurate the trend numbers are, so feel free to send to as many people as you can.

Thank you again for participating, and if you have questions or concerns about the survey feel free to contact me at rsalleyne@gmail.com.

Link to the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/speakupsisterexercise


Rebecca Alleyne, M.D.