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Vibration training is a hot topic in the fitness industry. My first introduction to it was at a medical conference where a representative approached me about including the product in a traditional cardiac rehabilitation setting. I felt skeptical as he touted the vast benefits for cardiac patients.

As with many new exercise and fitness tools, I’d applied the old adage: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Vibration training is just like it sounds. There are various machines on the market all with the same function: you stand, sit or lay on a vibrating platform. As the machine vibrates, it creates instability in your body, causing your muscles to repeatedly contract and relax dozens of times each second.

Advocates of vibration training say that as little as 10-15 minutes a day of whole-body vibration (WBV) three times a week may aid weight loss, burn fat, improve flexibility, enhance blood flow, reduce muscle soreness after exercise, and build strength.

As with many new exercise and fitness tools, I’d applied the old adage, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. I would not encourage people with cardiovascular disease to limit their workouts to this kind of training, and instead stick with a more traditional training that includes cardio, strength and stretching. There may be some opportunities to use WBV training as an addition to more proven types of exercise.

There is some early research published in the Journal of Clinical Interventions in Aging that found that WBV has some benefits. Dr. Tapp and and Dr. Signorile concluded: “Our results indicate that WBV may not be an effective alternative to traditional training with regard to body composition or aerobic capacity, but could have a positive impact on lower body strength.” Another study in the same journal concludes: “WBV is feasible, safe and effective in improving glycemic profile, lipid-related cardiovascular risk factors and functional capacity among T2DM patients.”

Many of the studies I reviewed focused on improvements in muscular strength, balance or flexibility. WBV consistently shows improvements in strength and balance yet it remains unclear if there is a direct benefit on cardiorespiratory endurance.

For people with a history of cardiovascular disease, the consistent recommendations from Dr. Dean Ornish and the American College Of Sports Medicine remain the gold standard for treatment and prevention. The Ornish Program prescribes a minimum of 30 minutes a day or for an hour every other day for a total of 3-5 hours of aerobic exercise per week and strength training exercise 2-3 times per week if medically appropriate. Utilizing new technology such as WBV may prove a nice addition, but it’s not a shiny new answer to what’s already been proven to work.

Are there any new workouts that you’re questioning whether or not they’re good for you heart?

Contributed by

Phil Hardesty
Exercise Physiologist

Have a healthy, happy and fit week!!

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