Whole Body Vibration to Build Muscle: Can it be this Easy?

vibration plate exercises obesity

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The research on vibration plate exercises continues to build. For those of you who have never used whole body vibration, it’s quite an experience.

In our office, the best way to describe vibration plate exercises is to have someone try the plate out for themselves. There really isn’t any adequate way to describe what happens. Either way, it’s unique.

The benefit of vibration exercise vary and some is more hype than reality. Fall prevention and muscle building (especially for the knees) top the list of benefits that have been demonstrated in the medical research. However, my personal belief has always been that vibration plate exercises were the most beneficial for those who were not active. That is why I have always considered it somewhat contradictory to have a whole body vibration unit in a health club.

This particular study, however, may expand my thoughts just a wee bit. Researchers looked at the hormone irisin and vibration plate exercises. Irisin, for those of you who did not know (and include myself as one of them), is a hormone released from muscle in response to exercise. It is believed that irisin then helps muscle rebuild stronger and fight off obesity and diabetes.

Irisin does this is by turning white fat (the lazy abdominal fat that contributes to diabetes, heart disease and cancer) into brown fat. Brown fat burns calories to produce heat. Generally a very good thing and it helps fight off diabetes and obesity.

Even more interesting relates to a blog post that I wrote a short while ago, relating the shivering response (basically keeping the room temperature at 60 degrees for 6 hours a day) to an increase in calorie burning from having more brown fat.

So what if the shivering response and vibration plate exercises produce the same response?? A very interesting line of thought and one that is supported by the research in this study.

In it, researchers put a group of healthy, untrained females through a 6-week program of whole-body vibration exercise training. Blood was checked before and right after a session of vibration plate exercises at the state of training and after 6 weeks. Here’s what they found:

  • Pre-exercise irisin levels were not different at the beginning of the study and after 6 weeks of training.
  • However, at the beginning of the study, after a vibration exercise session, irisin levels increased by 9.5%.
  • Even better, after 6 weeks of training, post-vibration exercise irisin levels increased 18.1%.

Much of this begins to make more sense. This brings together the research on vibration plate exercises and shivering / cold exposure and puts it under the umbrella of brown fat. Considering that most people would not want to expose themselves to shivering cold temperatures for weeks on end and that whole body vibration is a fun and easy therapy, it would seem that we have a better approach to management and prevention of obesity in vibration plate exercises.

James Bogash

For more than a decade, Dr. Bogash has stayed current with the medical literature as it relates to physiology, disease prevention and disease management. He uses his knowledge to educate patients, the community and cyberspace on the best way to avoid and / or manage chronic diseases using lifestyle and targeted supplementation.