Passive Exercise: Whole-Body Vibration and More
Working out while not really working is the concept behind a trend known as passive exercise. But does it really work?
Whole-Body Vibration continued...
What the Experts Say: While the experts who spoke with WebMD
all agreed that WBV does offer some benefits, all cautioned that the level is
nowhere near the claims being made.
"I've seen some remarkable results in terms of bone density -- working
better than conventional exercise -- plus good effects on circulation and
muscle stimulation for those who can't do conventional exercise," says
Quist. "But I don't think it can help you lose weight or impact cellulite.
There is really no solid medical evidence backing up these or other health
Cedric Bryant, PhD, chief science officer of the American Council on
Exercise, says while whole body vibration has potential, more research is
"Right now, the marketing and hype is greatly outpacing the research and
the scientific evidence -- but that said, from a conceptual standpoint, it
could presumably improve muscle strength and stability, and an increase in bone
density," says Bryant.
Indeed, in one study of 90 postmenopausal women published in the Journal
of Bone and Mineral Research in 2004, a group of Belgian researchers found
almost a 1% increase in hip bone density among users of the Power Plate form of
WBV, along with measurable increase in muscle strength. The study
participants used the machine for a total of 30 minutes three times a week for
In another study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatric
Society, researchers found that elderly people who were not able to
participate in traditional exercise saw muscle strengthening and
speed-of-movement benefits from using the Power Plate.
And in a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of
Sciences, mice that were placed on a low-vibration platform for 15 minutes,
five days weekly, for 15 weeks ended up with smaller torsos than a group of
mice who were put on a platform that didn't vibrate -- even though all the mice
ate the same amount of food.
Still, Gerard Varlotta, DO, remains unconvinced that whole-body vibration
can replace conventional exercise.
"We know that walking 2 miles a day is an effective way to build bone --
and I think it's OK to use this equipment as an adjunct to your normal exercise
routines -- but to rely on it solely, we're not there yet," says Varlotta,
director of physical therapy at the Rusk Rehabilitation Center at New York
University Medical Center.