You don’t have to sweat and ruin your hairstyle to have an effective workout. Try these 4 exercises to get started.

As a middle-aged woman of color, I sympathize with my friends, family, and fitness enthusiasts who see hair maintenance as a barrier to regular work. The fear of “sweating” a perm, losing curls that took hours to perfect, or ruining a rushed hairstyle is a concern that I personally understand.

I choose to wear my hair short and frizzy because it is easy to maintain, style and style on a daily basis; however, it was not always short. I’ve had my fair share of added braids, relaxing lye-free perms, and pressing combs. I missed some events because I didn’t want to venture out in the rain for fear of damaging my hair.

But your health is a top priority, and there are ways to get an effective workout without sweating heavily and ruining your beautiful crown.

First, consider one of these protection methods to make sure your scalp stays healthy and your hair looks good:

  • Apply leave-in conditioner and protect your hair with a silk bonnet, then cover it with a hat.

  • Pull your hair into a ponytail away from your neck and ears.

  • Or wear it in braids or twists.

Then plan your workout week to help you navigate your hair care regimen. Think about the type of exercise, how much time you need, whether you will be indoors or outdoors, and who you will be with. The goal is to create a cohesive program where you increase your heart rate enough to improve your endurance and also engage in exercises that strengthen your muscles and improve joint stability and bone density.

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Aim for two days of cardiovascular activity for 30 to 60 minutes, such as walking (briskly in the mall, outside with your dog, or on the treadmill), running, swimming, biking, dancing, exercising. zumba or whatever you like to get a good sweat. On those days, plan your workout after work or the days when you have enough time after your move to take a refreshing shower and get ready for your next event or date.

Then, aim for three days of 15 to 60 minutes of strength training or specific group exercise classes (face-to-face or virtual) such as strength training, the bar, Pilates or another activity that does not require a lot of perspiration. Keep in mind that 10-15 minute daily activities such as mowing the lawn also count.

If you need inspiration, try these four effective strength training exercises that don’t require you to sweat.

Pumps : This exercise strengthens the shoulders, chest, back, arms and abdominal muscles. Increase the sets as you get stronger.

Advanced. Start on the floor with your hands shoulder-width apart, legs extended, and knees slightly bent. Press the heels of your hands into the ground (relax your fingers) while lifting your chest off the ground. Extend the arms (without locking the elbows), then lower the body. Do two to three sets of 12 repetitions.

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Beginner. Stand near a counter. Place your hands on the counter and step your feet back about a foot. Lift your heels as you lean forward and lower your chest towards the counter, then extend your arms and return to the original upright position. Do two sets of 12 repetitions.

Dips and Kicks: This exercise tones your arms and improves your shoulder range of motion. Increase the repetitions as you get stronger.

Advanced. Sit in a chair with your feet shoulder-width apart and flat on the floor. Place your hands on the seat of the chair and move your feet forward. Lower your glutes back to the floor, allowing the arms to bend at a 90-degree angle (not lower). Lift one leg, then the other. Then straighten your arms as you lift your body. Do two to three sets of 12.

Beginner. Stand in front of a counter opposite it. Place your hands on the counter with your feet shoulder-width apart and your heels flat on the floor. Lower your glutes like toward an imaginary chair, then straighten your arms. Do three to four sets of six.

Exaggerated squat: This exercise is ideal for building strength and power in the legs and glutes, improving your stride, balance and endurance.

Advanced. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and pull your abdominal muscles inward. Reach for the ceiling while lifting your heels off the floor. Bend your knees and sink your heels into the floor as you sit down. While seated, lift both feet, then explode and reach for the ceiling again. Do three sets of 15.

Beginner. Place a chair or stool 2 feet from a counter. Place your hands on the seat of the chair and stand up. Place your hands on the counter or sink for support as you sit down. Do two to three sets of 10 repetitions.

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Bicycle Squeaks: This exercise helps engage the abdominal muscles, strengthening the central support of the lower and mid back.

Advanced. Lie on your back with your knees bent. Rest your head in your hands with your elbows apart. Bring the left knee back to the right elbow, while extending the right leg. Reverse. Count out loud as you perform the exercise; this ensures that you are breathing and not holding your breath. Do two to three sets of 20 reps on each side.

Beginner. Sit up straight on a sturdy chair. The knees are bent, the feet flat, and the legs shoulder-width apart. Place your hands near your ears. Lift the left knee to the right elbow, then put it down. Repeat on the right. Count out loud as you perform each repetition. Do two to three sets of 10 reps on each side.

Yvonne Ferguson Hardin (Fergie) is the owner of Fergie’s Instructional Training FIT in Germantown, where she specializes in educational movement programs for users aged 55 and over. For more information, visit

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