Vibration exercise machines - also sometimes called "shake machines" - work by prompting multiple muscles to activate to stabilize your body throughout the vibrations. Some studies suggest they may help with weight loss, but these studies were on rodents - not humans.
Benefits of Whole-Body Vibration
Whole-body vibration has been studied as a solution for conditions such as arthritis, Parkinsons Disease, and osteoporosis. Though these studies were fairly inconclusive, studies continue as researchers attempt to find a correlation between vibration machines and health benefits.
What a Vibration Exercise Machine Does
By standing on the vibrating platform, you activate the fast twitch muscles in your legs. Doing exercises on a vibrating platform recruits muscles from the entire body - particularly the core - to keep you upright. Some medical professionals consider whole-body vibration a potential solution to age-related ailments.
- Strengthening bone density in postmenopausal women - though results of studies on this topic are controversial and need further examination.
- Improved muscle strength in elderly adults and decrease instances of falls among this population.
- Improved balance in elderly adults, especially those who are not motivated to exercise.
What a Vibration Exercise Machine Does Not Do
While there may be some potential benefits to a total body vibration exercise machine (especially to the elderly and lab rodents), there have been little results shown in additional benefits. Standing on a vibration platform is a passive activity and can't provide the same heart benefits as cardiovascular exercise. Using a vibration platform has not conclusively been shown to help with the following:
- Weight loss
- Muscle toning
- Muscle sculpting
Using a Total Body Vibration Machine
Though most research studies involving whole body vibration merely involve participants standing or sitting on a vibrating platform, it is possible to use free weights, resistance bands and other light equipment during a vibration session. Body weight exercises such as squats are also a popular choice, as the vibration increases the level of difficulty of the exercise. The additional weight and concentration required by the body to maintain balance on the vibrating platform can help increase the benefits of other exercises.
Group Fitness and Training
Some gyms focus on whole-body vibration training, such as Great Vibrations Fitness. One-on-one workouts with a trainer, group fitness classes (and even yoga) in which participants stand on vibration plates during class are available at these types of gyms. Many fitness centers include a whole-body vibration machine among their available equipment for use by members.
At Home Use
Total body vibration machines are also available for home use. Those looking for increased balance can simply stand on the vibrating platform for 15-30 minutes, three times a week. Those seeking increased strength can do exercises with hand weights or resistance bands, or even body weight exercises twice a week for around 30 minutes each session. The cost of a total body vibration machine runs about $250 on Amazon, and they can be found nearly anywhere that exercise equipment is sold.
Cautions of Use
Whole body vibration may not be suitable for pregnant women or those with certain medical conditions. Speak to your physician about your readiness for this type of activity before you begin. Note that research conducted about exposure to vibration in the workplace over long periods of time has not yielded positive results as to vibration's effects on the human body.
Not a Magic Machine
Small gains may be found through the use of this equipment, although the gains appear to be most beneficial to those of advanced age. As technology and research advances, more benefits (or drawbacks) to whole body vibration may emerge.