AUGUSTA, Ga. — If you’ve never had a hankering for hitting the gym, some “good vibrations” may provide you the same physical benefits, a new study finds.
The benefits of regular exercise are no secret, yet many Americans do not incorporate physical activity into their daily regimen, prompting researchers to search for alternatives with comparable outcomes.
A less vigorous form of exercise called “whole-body vibration” (WBV) has been touted in the recent past for its claims to aid in blood flow, weight loss, and mobility in elderly people. But various studies over the past 10 years have shown varying results.
You may have already seen a WBV machine: one stands, lies, or sits on its platform as it vibrates, enabling one’s muscles to quickly relax and contract.
The latest research shows promising results for people who are concerned about physical fitness, but just aren’t natural gym rats.
“Our study is the first to show that whole-body vibration may be just as effective as exercise at combating some of the negative consequences of obesity and diabetes,” says the study’s first author, Meghan E. McGee-Lawrence, Ph.D., in a university release.
Her team at Augusta University tested WBV on two groups of five-week-old male mice, hoping to gauge its effectiveness.
While the two groups of mice studied differed significantly — one group was genetically predisposed to not feeling full after eating, while the other was, for all intents and purposes, normal — obese mice that were put on a treadmill or WBV regimen were found to gain less weight, and develop increased muscle mass and insulin sensitivity at comparable rates.
(A third group was simply a control group of mice that did not receive any exercise.)
To expand on the study’s methodology, the two groups of active mice were put on an exercise regimen for a period of 12 weeks, after having been given a week to get accustomed to the equipment.
One group did 20 minutes of WBV a day, while the other walked on a treadmill for 45 minutes daily. All groups were weighed daily.
“These results are encouraging,” says McGee-Lawrence. “However, because our study was conducted in mice, this idea needs to be rigorously tested in humans to see if the results would be applicable to people.”
In addition to academics at Augusta University, researchers at the Baltimore-based National Institute of Aging (NIA)— a division at the National Institute of Health— made major contributions.
The study, “Whole-body Vibration Mimics the Metabolic Effects of Exercise in Male Leptin Receptor Deficient Mice,” published this month in the journal Endocrinology.