6 Packs come with risk of depression
6 Packs come with risk of depression

6 Packs come with risk of depression

Researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Harvard University investigated the link between male body image issues and mental health.

A researcher interviewed 2,460 men aged 18-32 about their gym habits, and about 10 per cent of them have “body-image disorder.” They found that body-obsessed men have a higher risk of not only depression but also weekend binge drinking and using illegal supplements, including anabolic steroids. 

With this disorder, they will feel guilty when missing out on one workout even while they are in excellent shape; they will still feel the need to be thinner.


The term “six-pack’” typically refers to the rectus abdominis muscle. Flynn and Vickerton explained that the rectus abdominis muscle runs from the sternum to the pubic bone and is responsible for dynamically flexing the spine forward.  

Some studies have shown, though, that this muscle is not necessarily effective as a stabiliser of the spine (Kim and Lee 2017; Stokes et al. 2011).

Visibility of 6-Pack

One study (Branco et al. 2018) recommended that a normal range for body fat percentage is 17.6–25.3 per cent in males and 28.8–35.7 per cent in females. 

There is no universally accepted body fat percentage at which six-packs become visible; typical ballpark ranges are 10–12 per cent body fat for men and 16–20 per cent body fat for women.

Should it be a major goal in exercise?

Read had this to say: “While it’s OK to strive for aesthetic fitness goals like having visible abs, the truth is that your core and abdominals play a much more important role than just being nice to look at. 

The rectus abdominis is just one of many muscles in the so-called core, which is a series of muscles that span the hips to the thoracic spine and include superficial and deep layers, as well as different muscles along the front, side and back of your lower torso. Collectively, the core muscles stabilise the spine and allow it to bend and twist as required for functional activities. 

The biggest benefits of core training have nothing to do with visible abdominals. Furthermore, the abdominals are just one of many core muscles you should target in your routine”.

He further says: Additional core muscles that play a vital role include:

• transverse abdominis
• multifidus
• diaphragm
• pelvic floor
• internal and external obliques
• quadratus lumborum

A large body of evidence supports core training for a variety of improved outcomes across different populations.

For instance, Hsu et al. (2018) found that four weeks of core strength training enhanced performance on sudden perturbation tasks, which correlates to our ability to catch ourselves and stand upright when we’re about to fall over.

Also, another study by Hung et al. (2019) found that for athletic performance, additional research found that an 8-week core training programme enhanced static balance, core endurance, and running economy in college running athletes.


Finally, Chang et al., (2015) conducted a study on core training and low back pain and found that all core routines studied enhanced lower back pain. Frequent ones that targeted the deeper core muscles, such as the transverse abdominis and multifidus, had the greatest positive effects on lower back pain. 

Read finally summed it all up, saying: “It’s worth noting that training the core may help build more muscle mass in that region, which will add more contour to your six-pack and potentially allow it to be visible at slightly higher body fat levels.

However, you will still need to have relatively low body fat for this effect to occur, and the main reasons to train the core have more to do with performance and health benefits rather than aesthetic appearances”.

In conclusion, getting six packs alone is not enough and researchers believe that those who engage in them have no confidence in themselves, they drink more as well and have mental health issues leading to depression because they are not happy with their natural bodies.

Also, six-packs don't automatically make you fit, but they also don't mean you're underweight or addicted to exercise. Those abs aren't great correlations for much of anything and these are not markers of health and wellness. 

The writer is the President of Nyarkotey College of Holistic Medicine & Technology (NUCHMT)/African Naturopathic Foundation.
He adheres to strict sourcing, studies and academic papers in his articles, which are for educational purposes only and not medical advice for treatment.

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