‘Vibrate’ belly fat and high blood sugar away

Have you ever run across one of those vintage ads from the 1950s featuring a full-figured model strapped to a vibrating belt exercise machine?

You know the ones… the belt was usually positioned across her midsection, vibrating her entire body like a bowl of jello, while she stands there smiling and reading a magazine?

As funny and strange as those machines seemed, it appears the concept of using vibration for weight loss actually works — and is now part of a growing trend called whole body vibration, which has shown some impressive results and surprising health benefits…

The benefits of whole body vibration

If you’ve never heard of whole body vibration, it’s when you use a device to make your whole body vibrate.

Nowadays, you’ll find small platforms, vibrating plates and treadmills that create a whole body vibration effect. Manufacturers have started creating these devices because, for the past decade or two, research has shown just how beneficial whole body vibration is…

The latest study from researchers at Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University found that whole body vibration reduces body fat and insulin resistance, while also improving muscle and bone strength in mice with a genetic tendency toward obesity and diabetes.

In their study, researchers had some mice exercise on a treadmill for 20 minutes per day for three months, while others spent the same amount of time on a vibrating platform. Both groups experienced similar benefits when it came to insulin resistance, belly fat, weight gain and liver fat.

Both groups also experienced an increase in osteocalcin, a protein made by bone-producing cells. More osteocalcin, means stronger bones. It also seems to influence blood sugar control by encouraging the pancreas to produce more insulin.

“Our study is the first to show that whole-body vibration may be just as effective as exercise at combatting some of the negative consequences of obesity and diabetes,” said the study’s first author, Meghan E. McGee-Lawrence, Ph.D., of Augusta University. “While WBV did not fully address the defects in bone mass of the obese mice in our study, it did increase global bone formation, suggesting longer-term treatments could hold promise for preventing bone loss as well.”

Now, this study was obviously performed on mice, but studies on humans show that whole body vibration can improve muscle and bone strength in people with cerebral palsy, reduce pain and fatigue in women with fibromyalgia and improve strength and mobility in women with multiple sclerosis.

One study also found that whole body vibration improves irisin levels in women without previous exercise training. In case you forgot, irisin is the amazing hormone that can turn unhealthy white fat into beneficial brown fat, which helps you burn more calories and lose weight.

Getting started with whole body vibration…

There are two ways you can use whole body vibration to your benefit…

You can exercise while you’re on a vibration device. This will boost the benefits of your exercise routine, especially when you only have time for a short exercise session. In fact, some people say 15 minutes of exercise of a whole body vibration device is the equivalent of an hour long workout without one (although there hasn’t been any scientific research done to verify this for sure).

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The second option is replacing exercise with whole body vibration. This option is best for people with health problems or mobility issues that limit their ability to exercise. Of course, even if you’re generally healthy, you may have a day where you just can’t motivate yourself to exercise. If that’s the case, whole body vibration is better than no movement at all.

There is, however, one catch when it comes to whole body vibration…

You’ll have to make a small investment. Whole body vibration devices range in price from about $100 to over $2,000. If you want the benefits without breaking the bank, go for the cheapest option (as long as it has good reviews online).

And, of course, don’t fall into the trap of thinking whole body vibration can completely replace exercise…

While its benefits are impressive and comparable to exercise, nothing can give you the same mental and physical benefits as an invigorating run or walk on a gorgeous spring or summer day. On a rainy evening after a long day at work, on the other hand, 15 minutes on the whole body vibrator may be just what the doctor ordered.

  1. Whole body vibration has same health benefits as treadmill walking in a model of obesity and diabetes — MedicalXpress. Retrieved April 17, 2017.
  2. E. McGee-Lawrence, et al. “Whole-body Vibration Mimics the Metabolic Effects of Exercise in Male Leptin Receptor Deficient Mice.” — Endocrinology, 2017.
  3. Y. Huh, et al. “Irisin in response to acute and chronic whole-body vibration exercise in humans.” — Metabolism. July 2014; 63(7):918-21.
  4. E. Games, et al. “Whole-body vibration and blood flow and muscle oxygenation: a meta-analysis.” — Journal of Athletic Training. May 2015;50(5):542-9.
  5. Vibration exercise study finds some relief for fibromyalgia — MedicalXpress. Retrieved April 17, 2017.
  6. Whole body vibration therapy increases bone strength — MedicalXpress. Retrieved April 17, 2017.
Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine, TheFix.com, Hybridcars.com and Seedstock.com.