Whole Body Vibration Training Mimics Metabolic Effects of Exercise and Improves Cardiovascular Health and Fitness in Elderly

By Dr. Mercola

Whole Body Vibrational Training (WBVT) — which originated from research conducted during the 1960s’ space race — can provide a host of impressive health benefits, all while significantly reducing your workout time.

It can be used to add another dimension of benefit to your regular workout, warmups and cool-downs and, if you’re doing high-intensity interval training (HIIT), the vibration will ramp up your intensity even further.

WBVT can also be used to maintain and improve bone density (thereby decreasing risk of osteoporosis) in post-menopausal women and to help speed healing after an injury.

Injuries can leave cellular memories behind that can impede normal body movement or function. WBV stimulation allows your body and brain to de-imprint these old cell traumas, allowing for better and more efficient rehabilitation of injuries from sports than traditional methods of therapy.

Interestingly, WBVT — which involves standing on a vibrating platform such as a Hypervibe G25 — has been shown to be just as effective as regular exercise for those who are morbidly obese and diabetic, who may have trouble performing conventional exercises.

WBVT Is an Ideal Fitness Tool for Most People

While vibrating platforms are safe for most individuals, including the elderly, the American Council on Exercise warns WBVT is contraindicated for those with electronic implants such as pacemakers, pregnant women and those with a history of seizures, thrombosis and/or tumors.

For all others, WBVT has a lot to offer, regardless of your age or fitness level. Of particular note, sedentary and elderly individuals have demonstrated significant gains in most measures of muscle performance from WBVT, with results being comparable to traditional resistance exercise training programs.

Studies have shown a mere 12 minutes of WBVT equal 1.5 hours of working out with weights.1 Research has also shown WBVT can help:2,3

Increase muscle strength (especially explosive strength) and improve proprioception and balance Reduce pain (such as with fibromyalgia)
Increase hormone secretion: IGF-1, testosterone and human growth hormone Decrease cortisol levels
Increase fat loss: WBVT in conjunction with resistance training improved fat loss in menopausal women.4

Other research5 found WBVT was 54 percent more effective than traditional aerobics and strength training in producing visceral fat loss.

Those using WBVT were also less likely to gain the weight back

Reduce cellulite: Eight to 13 minutes of WBVT, two to three times per week for six months was shown to reduce cellulite by 26 percent.

When combined with 24 to 48 minutes of cardio, cellulite was reduced by more than 32 percent6

Improve neurological conditions Improve blood circulation, which can also stimulate tissue healing.

Three minutes on a vibrating platform doubles mean circulation for at least 10 minutes7

Increase flexibility and mobility Increase secretion of serotonin and norepinephrine
Counteract age-related muscle wasting Increase lymphatic drainage

The Space Science That Led to a Fitness Revolution

WBVT is based on science originating in space medicine, aimed at counteracting the severe bone and muscle loss astronauts suffer while they’re in space.8 By strapping themselves onto a vibrating plate for 10 to 20 minutes a day, these adverse side effects of weightlessness can be ameliorated.

The reason for this is because the vibrations effectively increase the gravitational forces on your body.9

A high-quality vibration platform such as the Hypervibe G25 — which vibrates in Pivotal motion (most proven and studied WBV movement) — can generate forces from .5 G to 25 Gs, depending on the frequency and amplitude settings used.

Each muscle in your body reacts in a continuous flow of micro  adjustments, contracting reflexively in response to the vibrations — and since it engages up to 98 percent of your muscle fibers, including the fast and super-fast muscle fibers, you reap greater benefits in a shorter amount of time.

The up-and-down movement improves your muscle tone while the left-to-right movement improve your balance and coordination. The vibrations also encourage your bones to regenerate in the same, but exaggerated, way weight-bearing exercises do.

Intermittent WBV Protocol Appears More Effective Than Continuous

In addition to increasing muscle growth, the neuromuscular response triggered by the rapid firing of the muscle spindle also leads to beneficial changes in your brain, internal organs and glands.

Some studies have even shown distinct hormonal effects.10,11 As noted in the book, “Using Whole Body Vibration in Physical Therapy and Sport,”12 “These results included increased testosterone by 7 percent, increased growth hormone by 460 percent and reduced cortisol by 32 percent.”

However, dosage (number of sets performed and the rest periods between sets) in whole body vibration (WBV) appears to be an important consideration. These beneficial hormone responses were observed when a 10-minute protocol was divided into two main sets of five one-minute subsets, with one-minute rest periods between each subset plus a six-minute rest between the two main sets.

When the WBV protocol involved seven minutes of continuous WBV, cortisol levels actually increased. Cortisol is a primary stress hormone that (over time and when chronically elevated) wears your body down by destroying healthy bone and muscle, slowing cell regeneration, interfering with your endocrine function and weakening your immune system.

Vibration Therapy May Help Build Stronger Bones

NASA-funded animal research published in 2001 showed that 10 minutes of vibration therapy per day resulted in “near-normal rates” of bone formation in rats that were otherwise prevented from bearing any weight on their hind legs for the remainder of the day.13 Beneficial results have also been found in studies on post-menopausal women.14

The women, aged 58 to 70 years old, did either static and dynamic exercises for the upper leg and hip area using WBVT, up to 30 minutes a day, three times a week, or 60 minutes of conventional weight training, three times per week. According to the researchers, WBVT can be a helpful adjunct therapy to reverse bone loss and osteoporosis, increasing leg strength by as much as 16 percent, and bone density in the hip by 1.5 percent.

WBVT Mimics Metabolic Effects of Exercise

While there are no magic shortcuts or substitutes for exercise, people who are morbidly obese can get a leg up by using a vibrating platform such as the Hypervibe G25. In the study15,16,17 in question, obese and diabetic mice gained similar muscle mass putting in either 45 minutes a day on a treadmill or standing on a vibrating platform for 20 minutes each day for four months.

They also experienced comparable improvements in insulin sensitivity, which is one of the major ways by which exercise improves your health and counteracts diabetes. Lead author Meghan McGee-Lawrence, assistant professor of cellular biology and anatomy at Augusta University noted:18,19

“Our study is the first to show that whole-body vibration may be just as effective as exercise at combating some of the negative consequences of obesity and diabetes… [If a traditional workout is not possible] Our study suggests it may be possible to obtain some of the same beneficial effects of exercise in a … less strenuous way.”

As explained by Pete McCall, an exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise, WBVT helps strengthen your cells, allowing your body to prepare for eventual exercise.20 If you’re already working out regularly, WBVT can kick your routine up a notch. You can use the Power Plate with a variety of exercises, including squats, deadlifts, pushups, planks and cardio intervals, as demonstrated by Jill Rodriguez in the following video.

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