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The Health Benefits of Long-Term Vibration Exercises

03rd November 2016
health benefits of long term vibration exercises

Although different than conventional weight lifting or body weight exercises, whole body vibration is still a form of strength training, and studies have shown that the effects of this type of physical activity are similar to those achieved through classical exercising.

Yet, some avoid vibration training because they think this form of exercise is “too new”, and they’re not convinced of its effectiveness or safety. Indeed, there are fewer studies on whole body vibration than on conventional exercise and its effects on one’s health and fitness level, but this doesn’t mean there’s no WBV research at all.

On the contrary, there are lots of studies that support the use of vibration machine therapy and training in various groups of people, and not just in healthy adults or seniors, but also in people dealing with different conditions that make conventional workouts hard to tolerate.

So it’s worth taking a look at the existing studies on the effects of long-term whole body vibration, to see whether this form of training is really that dangerous or if it’s safe and suitable for your fitness and health goals.

How do long-term vibration machine exercises impact one’s health?

A first study we’ll analyze was published in the International journal of sports medicine by scientists from Belgium. Researchers wanted to find out how 24 weeks of vibration training influence body composition and muscle strength in untrained females, when compared to conventional fitness training.

48 females participated in the study, the average age being 21.3 years. Part of them performed vibration workouts – unloaded static and dynamic exercises, while the other part followed a cardio and resistance training program. Both groups trained three times per week.

Results showed that the fat-free mass increased significantly in the WBV group only, and significant improvements in muscle strength were noticed in the vibration and fitness groups. No change was noticed in total weight or body fat percentage.

Another study analyzed the efficacy and feasibility of long-term vibration machine therapy in improving mobility in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). Seven randomized controlled trials involving 250 patients were initially analyzed, but from all these, only for 109 WBV patients and 100 control patients the available data was relevant for analysis.

The quality of these trials was generally poor, so the results cannot be taken as a general statement or rule, but they still suggest that vibration machine therapy can improve the 2-6 min walking endurance of MS patients.

Another study published by Spanish researchers in the Journal of strength and conditioning research showed that 8 months of vibration training could prevent loss of  muscle mass in the lower body of elderly women. 37 women involved in this study were randomly assigned to either a WBV or a control group.

The whole body vibration group performed vibration exercises twice a week, while the control group didn’t change their lifestyle. After 8 months, the control group showed significantly decreased muscle mass, while in the WBV group the mass increased. No changes were observed in balance, gait, functional capacity or handgrip strength in the two groups.

Then, in another study, the effects of short-term and long-term whole body vibration on the postural stability of adult males were compared. 28 male subjects, all of them healthy adults, were assigned to either a vibration or control group, the WBV group performing vibration platform exercises three times per week.

The results showed that long-term vibration training can shorten the rambling and trembling paths in the frontal plane, improving the postural stability of healthy adults, with no side effects.

We’ll continue the list of positive health effects of long-term vibration exercises with another research paper, published by Swedish researchers. This study from the Journal of rehabilitation medicine showed that 6 months of whole body vibration can improve the total body bone mineral density in children with severe motor disabilities, being well tolerated by kids.

In older women, whole body vibration exercises performed three times per week, for 24 weeks, led to improvements in bone mineral density of the hip, results suggesting that this form of training may be effective in preventing and treating osteoporosis. Participants performed static and dynamic exercises on vibration machines at 35-40 Hz and 2.28-5.09 G’s, no side effects being experienced.

Finally, one study showed that vibration exercises practiced long term and combined with caloric restrictions can improve the body weight and composition in overweight and obese adults, if done for 6 months or more. 61 participants completed this study, data being registered at the beginning and 3, 6 and 12 months after the study.

Results showed significant reductions in body weight in all groups, but only the fitness and vibration group managed to maintain the weight loss in the long run, and the vibration group saw the biggest changes in the percentage of visceral adipose tissue. This study suggests that long-term WBV training combined with caloric restriction can help one lose 5-10% of their body weight and maintain the results in the long run.

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