It’s no secret that including a fitness program in your life is vital for your health. Scientific studies continually reveal physical activity can reduce your risk of chronic disease, help coordination and balance (especially important in older people), may help weight loss (or maintain optimal weight), and improves your overall wellbeing. This article will explore the potential benefits of Whole Body Vibration Training (WBVT).
Whole Body Vibration Training (WBVT) offers a unique approach to physical exercise to help keep you on the fitness track. This involves a machine with a vibrating platform that you can either stand, sit, lie, or exercise on. As the machine vibrates, it transmits energy to your body, forcing your muscles to contract and relax dozens of times each second.
Whole body vibration training (WBVT) as a fitness trend grew out of early research aiming to solve the problem of muscle and bone loss during space travel.
The idea is that muscle contractions that occur in response to the vibrating platform put a mechanical load on a bone, stimulating bone formation and turnover.
Many studies have investigated standing or performing exercises (such as squats and lunges) on WBV platforms as a strategy to quickly and efficiently build strength and bone mass, and possibly as an alternative to resistance exercise for people who are unable to perform traditional exercise.1
Improvements in Bone Density
Exercising on a vibration plate could have significant bone health benefits for postmenopausal women. A 2010 meta-analysis of eight trials concluded that whole body vibration has been shown to increase hip bone mineral density (BMD) in postmenopausal women.2 It’s important to note that the bone building potential of using a whole body vibration plate is more effective when exercising on the plate, rather than remaining stationary.
A large study published in 2011 in which participants simply stood on low-intensity vibration plates for 20 minutes a day (no exercises), found that bone loss in postmenopausal women was not reduced over the course of one year.3
In contrast, in a study of women 60-70 without osteoporosis who exercised on a vibration plate three times a week for six months, benefits to bone density and strength were observed.The women in the whole body vibration group performed a variety of lower body exercises on the plate, such as squats and lunges.
That group was compared to a conventional exercise group and a control group. The whole body vibration training group and the exercise training group had similar gains in leg muscle strength and reductions in fat mass; but the most fascinating part was the whole body vibration group increased hip bone mineral density whereas the exercise and control groups did not.4
Studies on WBVT have found improvements in mobility and better performance on balance tests, such as single leg balancing and standing on a moving platform.5-7 Falls are often devastating for older adults. A fall resulting in a hip fracture can lead to a loss of independence and a rapid decline in health. Maintaining muscle mass, strength, and balance helps to prevent bone loss, frailty, and falls. Whole body vibration training may also improve balance and postural control in older adults, helping to prevent falls.
Building Muscle Mass and Strength
Older men who took part in WBVT three times a week for one year had similar gains in muscle mass and strength to an exercise group. However, the amount of time spent on WBVT was only 40 minutes per session, compared to 90 minutes for the exercise group.8
Strength gains were also found in postmenopausal women after 10 or 12 weeks of WBVT,9,10 plus reduced arterial stiffness in women with prehypertension or hypertension.10 Improvements in strength plus decreased arterial stiffness and blood pressure was also found in younger women, suggesting WBVT could also be beneficial for cardiovascular health.11,12
A Time-Saving Workout That Benefits All Ages
Whole body vibration is not just for older people, or those who have limitations on their exercise capabilities. Young adults and athletes can benefit from this training as well. Women in their early 20s who exercised on a whole body vibration plate three times a week for 12 weeks, were compared to a resistance training group, a control group, and a placebo group who exercised on a much lower intensity vibration platform. Leg strength improved in the WBVT and resistance training groups, and vertical jump height improved in the WBVT group only.13
A major advantage of WBVT is the potential for building strength quickly with only a limited time commitment, owing to the extra muscular work of the quick reflex contractions due to vibration. Workouts can be adjusted over time by changing the exercises, vibration speed, time, and frequency per week to keep the exercise intense and challenging according to one’s individual fitness level.
Physicians Should First “Do No Harm”
At the Dr. Fuhrman Wellness Center, we offer brief, once weekly appointments that combine Whole Body Vibration with a high-tech Biodensity exercise machine to protect against and reverse osteoporosis. This combination is more effective and much safer than the conventional drug approach which can cause severe side effects, such as heart arrhythmias and bone necrosis.
- Park SY, Son WM, Kwon OS. Effects of whole body vibration training on body composition, skeletal muscle strength, and cardiovascular health. J Exerc Rehabil 2015, 11:289-295.
- Slatkovska L, Alibhai SM, Beyene J, Cheung AM. Effect of whole-body vibration on BMD: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Osteoporos Int 2010, 21:1969-1980.
- Slatkovska L, Alibhai SM, Beyene J, et al. Effect of 12 months of whole-body vibration therapy on bone density and structure in postmenopausal women: a randomized trial. Ann Intern Med 2011, 155:668-679, W205.
- Verschueren SM, Roelants M, Delecluse C, et al. Effect of 6-month whole body vibration training on hip density, muscle strength, and postural control in postmenopausal women: a randomized controlled pilot study. J Bone Miner Res 2004, 19:352-359.
- Orr R. The effect of whole body vibration exposure on balance and functional mobility in older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Maturitas 2015, 80:342-358.
- Bogaerts A, Verschueren S, Delecluse C, et al. Effects of whole body vibration training on postural control in older individuals: a 1 year randomized controlled trial.Gait Posture 2007, 26:309-316.
- Kawanabe K, Kawashima A, Sashimoto I, et al. Effect of whole-body vibration exercise and muscle strengthening, balance, and walking exercises on walking ability in the elderly. Keio J Med 2007, 56:28-33.
- Bogaerts A, Delecluse C, Claessens AL, et al. Impact of whole-body vibration training versus fitness training on muscle strength and muscle mass in older men: a 1-year randomized controlled trial. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 2007, 62:630-635.
- Machado A, Garcia-Lopez D, Gonzalez-Gallego J, Garatachea N. Whole-body vibration training increases muscle strength and mass in older women: a randomized-controlled trial. Scand J Med Sci Sports 2010, 20:200-207.
- Figueroa A, Kalfon R, Madzima TA, Wong A. Whole-body vibration exercise training reduces arterial stiffness in postmenopausal women with prehypertension and hypertension. Menopause 2014, 21:131-136.
- Roelants M, Delecluse C, Goris M, Verschueren S. Effects of 24 weeks of whole body vibration training on body composition and muscle strength in untrained females. Int J Sports Med 2004, 25:1-5.
- Figueroa A, Gil R, Wong A, et al. Whole-body vibration training reduces arterial stiffness, blood pressure and sympathovagal balance in young overweight/obese women. Hypertens Res 2012, 35:667-672.
- Delecluse C, Roelants M, Verschueren S. Strength increase after whole-body vibration compared with resistance training. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2003, 35:1033-1041.
Joel Fuhrman, M.D. is a family physician, New York Times best-selling author and nutritional researcher who specializes in preventing and reversing disease through nutritional and natural methods. Dr. Fuhrman is an internationally recognized expert on nutrition and natural healing, and has appeared on hundreds of radio and television shows including The Dr. Oz show, The Today Show, Good Morning America, and Live with Kelly. Dr. Fuhrman’s own hugely successful PBS television shows, 3 Steps to Incredible Health and Dr. Fuhrman’s Immunity Solution bring nutritional science to homes all across America.