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How whole body vibration influences your hormone levels

29th August 2015

You may think there’s no link between whole body vibration and your hormones, but this form of training has similar effects to conventional workouts, and just like a weight lifting session or an hour of cardio influence the production of certain hormones, exercising on whole body vibration machines can stimulate or decrease the levels of these substances in your body.

1. Effects of whole body vibration on growth hormone

Growth hormone is produced by the pituitary gland at the base of the brain, being a substance that supports childhood growth and helps in maintaining the health of tissues and organs throughout life. GH helps regulate body fluids and body composition, as well as muscle and bone growth, being involved in the regulation of sugar and fat metabolism, and possibly in heart function as well [1].

Growth hormone stimulates the growth of cartilages, boosts the production of proteins, promotes the utilization of fat and raises blood sugar levels by interfering with insulin [2]. In a healthy organism, the production of GH decreases naturally with age, and some people may develop growth hormone deficiency. This condition is rare, but can have serious effects on one’s health, so GH injections may be administered to counteract these issues.

In children, GH administration is approved for conditions like Turner’s syndrome, HGH deficiency or insufficiency, Prader-Willi syndrome and chronic kidney insufficiency. In adults, the administration of this hormone is approved for short bowel syndrome, HGH deficiency and muscle-wasting disease associated with HIV/AIDS.

Although the studies on the effects of GH on healthy adults are limited, it appears that this substance can increase muscle mass and help in reducing the body fat percentage in older adults [3].

In obese individuals, growth hormone may help in reducing body fat [4], and researchers have found that whole body vibration exercises may help in boosting the production of growth hormone in these people. A study published in the Obesity Facts journal by Italian researchers showed that WBV alone or combined with squatting stimulates the release of growth hormone in obese women, peaks occurring immediately after the exercise session.

2. WBV decreases the production of stress hormone cortisol

Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands located on top of the kidneys. It is released in higher amounts in the morning, during exercise and in periods of acute stress, being involved in maintaining homeostasis and affecting several bodily processes.

This substance modulates blood sugar levels, the metabolism of fats, carbs and proteins, the immune responses, anti-inflammatory actions and blood pressure, the activation of the central nervous system and the contractions of the heart and blood vessels.

When the production of cortisol is higher than normal, one may experience blood sugar imbalances, elevated blood pressure, lowered immune function, impaired cognitive performance, sleep problems and weight gain especially in the abdominal area. Too much cortisol has also been linked with an altered thyroid function, decreased bone density and decreased muscle mass.

Studies have found whole body vibration exercises to be effective in reducing the production of cortisol and contributing to lower stress levels. In periods of prolonged stress, the organism produces more cortisol and this makes one prone to storing fats around the waist and on the abdomen. The fat that accumulates is mostly visceral and dangerous for one’s health, as it increases the risk of heart attacks and stroke.

Vibration workouts were found to decrease the secretion of this hormone and to maximize muscle stimulation. A study published by Italian researchers in the European journal of applied physiology [5] showed that 10 minutes of vibration exercises can reduce the production of this substance by 32% and increase the production of growth hormone by 320%.

Through its effects on these hormones, whole body vibration may be an effective solution for reducing stress, decreasing body fat percentage and increasing muscle mass.

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3. Regulation of muscle mass by growth hormone and IGF-1,

4. Growth hormone in obesity,

5. Hormonal responses to whole-body vibration in men,

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