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Effects of Whole Body Vibration on Cortisol Levels and Body Weight

19th July 2014

Maintaining healthy eating habits during periods of stress can be difficult even for the most health-conscious of us, as it’s a lot harder to avoid emotional eating than to control the occasional cravings for sweets that occur while watching commercials or doing the groceries.

Periods of increased stress usually mean less time and energy for homemade dishes, an altered appetite and higher levels of cortisol, also referred to as the stress hormone. This hormone is normally produced in higher amounts in the early morning hours, and its release decreases around midnight, in order to allow the body to rest properly.

How cortisol causes weight gain


Cortisol controls the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates. These nutrients are used by the organism as fuel, carbs being the main source of energy. Foods that contain carbohydrates are broken down to glucose during the metabolic processes and glucose enters the bloodstream, from where it’s transported to cells, for energy production.

When the levels of blood glucose or glycogen in muscles and liver are lower than needed, the body can access the fats stored in the adipose layers, and use these molecules for producing energy. Carbs provide 4 kcal/gram, while fats release 9kcal/gram.

In periods of prolonged stress, the production of cortisol tends to increase and this causes the body to store more fats, especially in the abdominal area. This fat is also referred to as “toxic fat” or visceral fat, as it is the most dangerous for the human body, people with higher percentages of abdominal fat being more prone to heart attacks and stroke.

Besides favoring the deposition of fat inside the abdomen, an altered cortisol production can also affect one’s appetite as it influences the levels of glucose in the bloodstream. This can lead to overeating and rapid weight gain. Then, cortisol can mobilize triglycerides from storage and move them to the adipose layers found right underneath the skin (subcutaneous fat), causing weight gain in the belly area.

Whole body vibration reduces cortisol levels


Studies have shown that vibration training can decrease the production of cortisol while maximizing muscle stimulation and boosting the production of growth hormone. 10 minutes of whole body vibration exercises can reduce the production of cortisol by up to 32% and increase the release of human growth hormone by 320% to 464%.

Cortisol, as said, can favor weight gain, while growth hormone stimulates weight loss and is effective especially in decreasing adipose tissue around the belly. Produced by the pituitary gland, growth hormone increases bone density, favors lean mass gain, strengthens immunity protecting against the harmful effects of stress and improves circulation. Also, it improves blood lipid levels and keeps cells healthy.

These effects, cumulated, turn whole body vibration not only into an effective tool for weight loss, but also into an accessible and convenient solution for improving muscle strength and body composition. WBV causes no signs of stress or fatigue, being well tolerated even by elders.

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