Whole body vibration may be fitness boon, or not

By Tom Nordlie • Published: October 28th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Every few years, a new fad shakes up the fitness industry.

The latest one shakes up the exercisers themselves. It’s called whole body vibration, or W-B-V.

The workouts are done on a platform that jiggles up and down. It moves no more than one centimeter, as many as sixty times per second. Depending on their goals and abilities, users can remain stationary on the platform, perform bodyweight exercises, or even pump iron.

Advocates say W-B-V can enhance muscle performance. But according to a review article published in the journal Current Sports Medicine Reports, the results vary.

Studies on younger, fitter adults sometimes… but not always… show that W-B-V boosts strength better than traditional methods.

The researchers noted that study protocols have varied widely, which may explain the inconsistent results. Studies on untrained people and older adults have generally demonstrated that long-term W-B-V training improves strength.

W-B-V may have other uses, too.

For example, stretching performed on W-B-V equipment has been shown to improve flexibility better than normal stretching exercises. And for elderly people, W-B-V training may promote greater bone mineral density.

Bottom line? It’s too early to say that W-B-V helps everybody.

The researchers emphasized the need for more study to find ideal training parameters. So if your personal trainer or gym buddy hails W-B-V as the next big thing, take it with a grain of salt.

As far as science is concerned, we’ll have to wait and see how things shake out.