Ellen Dimas, Strength Training II, Spring 2013

What is it?

Whole body vibration, also known as “Power Plate” exercise, is an evolutionary workout originally used to train Russian cosmonauts. Some experts refer to this form of training as passive exercise since the equipment seemingly does the work for you.

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How does it work?

Most commonly, people stand on the machine with their knees bent while the platform vibrates 30 times per second. In some cases, people will sit on the board or put their hands upon it and perform various exercises such as lunges, squats, and planks.

According to Ben Quist, a physical therapist and personal trainer, the vibration “tricks the body into thinking you’re falling. This, in turn, activates the ‘stress reflex’- an extremely rapid muscle contraction.” (Passive Exercise) It is believed that these rapid-fire vibrations more efficiently contract the muscles than what occurs during regular exercise.

Since it places little stress on the joints, tendons, or ligaments, it is a simple way for individuals of all fitness levels and ages, particularly those who suffer from arthritis, fibromyalgia, Parkinson's, or multiple sclerosis, to improve their well-being.

The vibration platform, which can be found in local gyms or purchased for home use, costs between $150-$5,000.

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Proponents of a WBV workout claim the following benefits:

  • Increased muscle strength, flexibility & mobility
  • Improved circulation and lymphatic flow
  • Accelerated weight loss
  • Reduced stress hormone - cortisol
  • Elevated human growth hormone levels
  • Improved sleep due to increased secretion of serotonin and norepinephrine
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Physical improvements are not the only ones noted. According to Dr. Keith DeOrio, WBV stimulation can contribute to physiological changes in the brain, particularly when cellular memories from injuries have occurred, impeding regular body movement or function. (Whole Body Vibration)

Reality or Myth?

In the case of whole body vibration, the old adage, “no pain, no gain” apparently does not hold true. Some studies state that exercising on a WBV platform for a total of 12 minutes is equivalent to a 1.5 hour strength training workout. However, many experts caution that there is not enough research available to advocate use of the WBV devices. Most advise utilizing them only as an enhancement tool. Per Dr. Wojtek Chodzko, researcher on aging and physical activity at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, "I don't think it's going to do you any harm, but don't stop doing your regular exercise routine." (Fox News).

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I think most of us could agree that anything we can do to benefit our health with little time or energy invested is a winning proposition! Consider adding Whole Body Vibration to your routine today!!!