Whole body vibration machines, also called vibration plate machines, are exercise devices designed to make your muscles work against a vibrating force that affects your entire body while you sit or stand. While merely standing or sitting on a vibration plate machine won't trigger much weight loss, you can potentially lose weight if you perform additional exercises in combination with vibration.
Vibration plate machines differ from old-fashioned vibrating belt machines, which wrap around your midsection and pulsate back and forth. Essentially, the pulsing effect from belts does nothing more than slide your skin around. Modern vibration machines, on the other hand, shake your whole body roughly 30 to 50 times per second. To compensate for this shaking, your muscles involuntarily contract and relax as you work to maintain your balance. According to the theory behind these machines, this constant attempt to balance yourself forces your muscles to work hard enough to trigger significant weight loss.
Simply sitting or standing on a vibration machine will only cause you to lose a few extra calories, according to Mayo Clinic's Dr. Edward R. Laskowski. This is because of the relatively passive nature of the machine, which doesn't make you work actively in the same way as more conventional forms of exercise. Laskowski does not recommend vibration machine exercise as a primary method of losing weight or maintaining a current healthy body weight.
Vibration and Calisthenics
When you perform calisthenic exercises such as squats, crunches and pushups while sitting or standing on a vibration machine, you substantially increase the weight-loss potential of your activity, according to a study released in 2009 by the European Association for the Study of Obesity. In fact, when compared to individuals in the study that restricted their calorie intake and performed only conventional aerobic exercises, individuals that restricted their calories and performed calisthenics on a vibration machine lost more weight around their abdomens. This is significant because a form of abdominal fat, called visceral fat, can considerably increase your risks for diabetes, heart disease and a number of other ailments.
Additional potential benefits of vibration machine exercise include increased muscle strength in women and older adults with degenerative knee arthritis, increased balancing abilities in elderly women and improvements in bone mineral density that may decrease osteoporosis risks in postmenopausal women. However, participating in vibration exercise may cause harm if you have lower back pain or certain other physical ailments. To safeguard your health, ask your doctor for advice before you begin using a vibration machine. If your doctor approves your use of vibration, you still need to engage in aerobic activity and additional forms of strength training to get the maximum health benefits from exercise.
- MayoClinic.com: Whole Body Vibration Training; An Effective Workout?; Edward R. Laskowski, M.D.; May 2009
- "Time": A New Way to Shake Off the Pounds; Catherine Sharick; September 5, 2006
- Science Daily: Vibration Plate Machines May Aid Weight Loss and Trim Abdominal Fat; European Association for the Study of Obesity; May 8, 2009
- MayoClinic.com: Belly Fat in Women; How to Keep It Off (Page 1); April 2009