Many women, especially black women, are harming their health by avoiding exercise, and instead spending a significant amount of time and money on their hair, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina M. Benjamin said.

Oftentimes you get women saying, 'I can't exercise today because I don't want to sweat my hair back or get my hair wet,' Benjamin told the New York Times in an interview. When you're starting to exercise, you look for reasons not to, and sometimes the hair is one of those reasons.

Benjamin recently attended a trade show in Atlanta this month to talk about too many women forgoing exercise because they worry it will ruin their hair.

The Bronner Bros. International Hair Show in Atlanta draws about 60,000 hairstylists, including those who specialize in handling black hair.

Benjamin told the paper that the problem lies in the fact that many women invest a lot of their time and money in chemical relaxers and other treatments that make their naturally tight curls into straight locks.

When their hair gets wet, the moisture will cause the curls to return to their natural state.

I hate to use the word 'excuse,' but that's one of them, Benjamin told the Times. She is the founder of a rural health clinic in Bayou La Batre, Ala., on the Gulf Coast. We want to encourage people, and also give women the ability to look good and feel good and to be empowered about their own health.