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Vibration platforms' shaky link in improving women's bone density

November 14, 2011|By Jeannine Stein, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
  • Whole-body vibration plates, popular at gyms, may not improve bone density in post-menopausal women.
Whole-body vibration plates, popular at gyms, may not improve bone density… (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles…)

Whole-body vibration machines are becoming a fixture in the fitness world, but they may fall short in one area: a study of post-menopausal women who used the plates daily for a year showed no improvement in bone density.

The study, released Monday in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, included 202 healthy post-menopausal women who had low bone mass but not full-on osteoporosis that required medication. They were randomly assigned to three groups: two that stood for 20 minutes a day for a year on a whole-body vibration plate set at a low-magnitude vibration (either 30 Hz or 90 Hz), and one that did not use the vibration machines at all. All the women also took calcium and vitamin D supplements.

Vibration platforms, popular in health clubs and home gyms, purport to benefit muscles, flexibility, circulation and bones through constant vibrations that can be set to different levels. Static and dynamic exercises can be done while on the machine.

Researchers found that after a year there was no improvement in bone density in either vibration machine group, and the study participants experienced bone loss at about the same rate as those in the control group. Bone density was measured at the start and the end of the study at several sites around the body. There were few unfavorable effects among the women who used the platforms.

The authors concluded that using vibration platforms to increase bone density in post-menopausal women isn't recommended.

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