The Dangers, Health Risks of Binge Gymming

Freshman Keondre Cooley lifts weights at the Payne Center on the Southern Miss campus Friday afternoon as many other students work out daily to fit their schedules. -Susan Broadbridge/Printz


Andrew Dutton – Printz Reporter

Working out every day, lifting weights and hitting the gym to obtain that perfect body image of the Greek Gods can be the attitude of most male binge gymmers.

According to the American Health Journal piece titled “Eating and Exercise Disorders in Young College Men,” one-fifth of men worry about their weight and shape. Out of 93 male college students, over 8 percent reported exercise disorders, and 9 percent reported eating disorders but do not seek treatment.

Individuals who are at risk for exercise-dependence reported more strenuous exercise, perfectionism and self-efficiency. Authors of Psychology and Health Volume 17 Heather Hausenblas and Danielle Downs said over-exercising has been reported to have some detrimental effects.

Analysis of existing studies from the Cleveland Clinic Foundation said that chronic extreme exercise training can lead to heart damage and rhythm disorders. Other effects include fatigue, suppressed immune system, arthritis, stress fractures, sprains and kidney failure. 

An article written by world-class speed skater Harm Kupiers gave a study of training statistics. The study shows training in the gym over 15 hours a week showed a consistent decrement in performance. The results are twice as bad when training for over 20 hours a week.

It is not just college men that binge in the gym, but high school students as well. An article in the New York Times tells the story of David Abusheikh, an 18-year-old high school student who for three years would lift weights for two hours, six days a week. He added protein shakes and bars to his diet to put on muscle without getting fat.

In a study from the medical journal Pediatrics, 40 percent of boys in middle school and high school said they exercise regularly to increase muscle mass, 38 percent said they use protein supplements and 6 percent said they have experimented with steroids.

Dr. Shalender Bhasin, a professor of medicine at Boston Medical Center, explained the use of protein supplements, the New York Times reported.

The problem with supplements is that we don’t know what’s in them. They’re not regulated like drugs,” Bhasin said. He said that some contain anabolic steroids and taking them in large amounts could prove to be dangerous to one’s health.

When asked about good and healthy workout regimens, Southern Miss students were quick
with responses.

“I work out an hour or 90 minutes four times a week,” said Brandon May, a senior accounting major. “It gives you enough time to work out the body in general and less than that it isn’t helping a whole lot in my opinion.”

May said that working too hard, like Abusheikh, does damage to the body and he considers the
practice unhealthy. 

Kyle Montiforte, a construction management major at USM, said he tries to work out two to three hours, three times a week.

It depends on how they break (working out two hours every day) up,” Montiforte said. “Different muscle groups need to be worked at different times.

Montiforte said that if his schedule permitted it, he would work out every day, but at smaller increments of 30 minutes instead of two or three hours.


Karyn Lewis – Printz Reporter

Binge gyming —going from lifting burgers to lifting 50-pound weights— is common in American culture, particularly among college students.

It seems students would maintain healthy lifestyles by using the Payne Center, but  keeping this up becomes challenging while balancing classes and extracurricular activities. This is where binge gyming comes into play.

Many believe women are more prone to binge dieting and working out due to influence from the media, but the truth is both sexes struggle with the unhealthy choice equally.

Everyone has those times when he or she feels the need to lose an extra 10 pounds for an upcoming event to look his or her best and, of course, impress others.

Some take it a step too far and turn to binge weight loss, leading to more serious health conditions.

Throughout my experience as a personal trainer it is second nature to hear clients want specific results immediately,” said Tayler Jordan, a senior exercise science major and a physical trainer at the Payne Center.

In my experience, both men and women seem to want results immediately. The only difference, in my opinion, is that men see results more quickly so they stay motivated and stick to the program longer, whereas it takes women longer to visualize changes in their physique, which is difficult mentally to continue pushing themselves.” 

The media also plays a role in women’s weight loss motivation.

There is a cookie-cutter image portrayed by the media that says all women should look ‘this way’ to feel beautiful,” Jordan said.

Most women spend their time imagining their bodies as someone else’s when we were all truly created to be beautiful in our own way. A happy, healthy lifestyle is not intended to make people want to look a certain way, rather it is to be healthier overall, looking and feeling better,” she added.

You see the body builders and the extremists,” said Abigail Elias, coordinator for fitness and wellness at the Payne Center. “The extremists may be on something you don’t know about, or they’re constantly flexing in the mirror for a picture, of course. That’s not what they look like when they walk around all day long.

Elias sees multiple demographics repeatedly binge gyming.

Freshmen come in and they’re gung-ho about it for a second, but then they get caught up with everything going on in college, and that’s fine, but then they fall off the face of the Earth when it comes to coming to the Payne Center,” she said.

Then New Year’s resolutions come and they’re right back, but it lasts about three weeks and then they all leave again. Physically it wears out their bodies, especially if they weren’t doing anything beforehand. We see a lot of this in pregnant females and in juniors and seniors who realize they’re about to lose a gym when they graduate,” she added.

Losing too much weight too quickly affects one emotionally and mentally as well.

When we put our bodies in a caloric deficit and spend too much energy too quickly, our bodies resort to using alternative resources for fuel, such as muscle,” Jordan said.

It also causes a hormonal effect that results in exhaustion and fatigue, which means being highly irritable and very tired. Not only will these symptoms affect emotions, but also mental function and focus are definitely at risk.

All in all, take it easy at the gym. Seeing results is great, but it takes time. If one is happy with what he or she is doing, it will all turn out well.