Whole body vibration therapy is becoming increasingly popular as a way to lose weight and gain strength and fitness. Vibration platforms are one of the more affordable exercise machines on the market, and it is claimed there are many benefits surrounding their use. But does vibration really provide an effective workout, and can it provide the same range of health benefits as more standard exercises such as walking, running or cycling? Let’s take a closer look and find out.
What is Whole Body Vibration?
Whole body vibration involves stimulating muscles, nerves, circulatory, and other critical body systems and functions. This can be done using a vibration platform machine. Vibration of the body produces measurable results that have been scientifically proven to benefit people in many different ways. Numerous studies of the effects of whole body vibration on the human body have been conducted at universities, hospitals, medical clinics, and government labs all over the world. The results of those studies have been nothing less than astounding.
For example, one study conducted over 24 weeks found that whole body vibration resulted in significant strength gain. Comparable to results you would expect from a standard fitness training program consisting of cardio and resistance training. Another study of whole body vibration therapy on obese women found that 6 weeks saw an improvement in cardiac autonomic function, and 10 or more weeks produced significant drop in body weight, improvement in leg strength and many more benefits.
How Does Whole Body Vibration Benefit the Body?
If you’ve ever had a doctor tap your knee with a rubber mallet to check your reflexes, you’ve experienced a perfect example of how whole body vibration works. The human body reacts to certain kinds of stimuli automatically. It’s called an Autonomous response and it happens because the human body is conditioned and programmed to respond to certain external stimuli in a pre-determined way. When the knee muscle is tapped, the leg reacts without any effort. The same thing happens when a body experiences vibration. the affected areas include
The motion of an oscillating vibration plate simulates the body walking, moving from side to side at a steady pace. The difference is that a vibration plate moves up and down many more times per second than the body does as it strolls along. This creates a muscle reaction that makes the body think it is jogging, even though the person is just standing on top of the vibration plate.
Joints and Nerves
Stimulating the joints and nerves enables the body to tune itself up and prepare for a workout or physical activity. Many athletes use Whole Body Vibration to warm up before a workout. Nerve endings affected by issues like Multiple Sclerosis or Fibromyalgia can be diminished by using whole body vibration exercises and treatments. Joints are more flexible and less painful due to the improved fluid movement throughout the tissues and tendons.
Blood transfer and oxygenation is a critical part of maintaining good health and a vibration plate helps enhance blood flow and oxygenation. Due to the effects of vibration on the body, the body thinks it is working out and reacts by increasing the heart rate. Increased heart rate strengthens the heart muscles and places more oxygen into the blood for the muscles to burn as they work. The net effect is a strengthened circulatory system that pushes blood into all the small capillaries and other important arteries providing oxygen to more areas in the body.
Most folks don’t realize they have a system in their body that is designed to remove wastes, toxins, bacteria, and other bad things from the body. It’s called the Lymphatic System and unlike the circulatory system that has a pump to make it function properly, the Lymphatic System is activated by body movement and muscle activity. If a person doesn’t move around much the toxins and other nasties can build up in the body causing illnesses and discomfort. Stimulating the Lymphatic System cleans the toxins and bad materials out, helps the kidneys and liver function more efficiently, and help people enjoy a better level of overall health.
When John Kellogg (yes, Kellogg’s Cereal) experimented on Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients under his care he noticed the patients seemed to calm down when they were riding on a train or trolley car. He deduced it was the vibrations of the moving vehicle that affected the patient’s behavior and he began to experiment using a chair on top of a vibrating platform. This was back in 1905 and it was the true beginning of research into the effects of Whole Body Vibration on the human condition. What has been discovered is that Whole Body Vibration helps the brain produce good hormones like Serotonin and Dopamine that help people feel more calm, relaxed, and in control. The vibration of the brain also produces Endorphins that help with sleep.
A vibrating platform is an alternative form of resistance training. Standing on an oscillating vibration plate increases the amount of g-forces the body is overcoming to accomplish a physical movement. The plate is pushing against the weight of the body (1 unit of gravity or 1g) and the body is pressing down against the plate with a force of 1g. The total amount of resistance is 2 gravities or 2g’s. Think of it like doing a push up with someone sitting on your back. Some studies have shown that a 10-minute session working out with a vibration plate is like working out at the fitness center for an hour.
When the body moves back and forth on an oscillating plate, the brain adjusts to the movement by reacting to the imbalance created when the plate drops on one side and lifts on the other side. This constant imbalance automatically trains the body to get back into balance, like resetting the programming on a computer. Many seniors find whole body vibration beneficial as it helps them avoid falls and improves stability while walking. Athletes in sports that require balance and fast reaction, like football, skiing, golf, and most others benefit from improved reaction speeds, greater jumping height, as well as improved balance and muscle control.
It is clear that there are many benefits to whole body vibration from lowering blood pressure, to improving strength and balance, to reducing bone loss, and even weight loss. It should be performed correctly though using a good quality vibration platform machine to get the best results. If you’re unsure whether WBV is suitable for your circumstances make sure to consult a doctor first. It could potentially be harmful if used with certain health conditions or during pregnancy.