Seniors Unable to Exercise May Benefit from Good Vibrations

Posted by

Healthcare professionals involved in caring for seniors are often faced with getting their patients to exercise. But many elderly simply aren’t able to perform much physical activity without pain; others may be in post-op recovery or lack the muscle strength and balance to do anything physical. This poses a dilemma for physical and occupational therapists working with inactive seniors.
Alba Gomez Cabello, author of a recent short-term study on exercise, believes there may be a solution. Placing ambulatory adults on a vibrating platform may help them become slightly stronger, faster and more agile.
Seniors need regular exercise to maintain good health, noted Cabello, but for those who can’t perform aerobic exercise, this vibration technique "could be an easy and quick treatment to improve physical fitness."
Patients simply stand on a floor-mat sized platform. Mild vibrations move up through the feet to stimulate the entire body. The patient can stand or squat, and bending the knees “helps transmit the vibrations,” said Cabello, who studies growth and exercise at the University of Zaragoza, Spain.
Cabello’s Spanish government-funded study enlisted 24 men and women over the age of 65. Each was asked to perform 10 squats held for 45 seconds on a vibrating platform, with a minute’s rest between squats. The routine was repeated three times a week for 11 weeks. The study also included 25 people who performed no vibration exercises.
Results published in the journal Maturitas showed mild improvement. Seniors who performed the vibration exercises averaged two additional reps of upper and lower body strength exercises. They also added half an inch to their lower body flexibility, and walked 33 yards slightly faster than before their vibration training. "Whole body vibration is an easy and quick way of exercise that stimulates muscles and improves fitness," said Cabello. 

Theoretically, vibrations help activate muscles, strengthen bones and improve circulation in people of all ages. Another recent study revealed that vibration platforms could be used in nursing homes to help improve balance in seniors. Experts warn that while some studies show vibration therapy may improve balance and muscle tone, these exercises won’t prevent bone loss in postmenopausal women.
Some suggest the need for further study. "This showed an improvement in motor performance on simple tasks," said Wojtek Chodzko-Zajko, who studies aging and physical activity at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and who was not involved in the study. "That doesn't necessarily correlate with quality of life."
To evaluate vibration exercise’s real benefit to older adults, Chodzko-Zajko suggests one look at how whole body vibrations influence chronic conditions like heart disease, as well as mental health, depression and anxiety. 
The jury’s still out on any absolute or guaranteed benefits for seniors using vibration exercise machines. That said, there are some benefits to whole body vibration. While Chodzko-Zajko's 82-year-old mother uses a whole body vibration machine to "loosen up her joints," he advises her to continue her regular exercise routine.
Image courtesy of stockimages/

Become a member to take advantage of more features, like commenting and voting.

  • Alex Kecskes
    Alex Kecskes
    More information on vibration therapy for Seniors can be found at: at:
  • Teresita G
    Teresita G
    This sound a bit too early to be recommended-it may produce passive movements limited part of the body , but productive outcome must come from combined muscle and tissue energized consumption of oxygen -if we can find a way for people to walk even for limited few yards or distance  nothing beats mobility
  •  Ann G
    Ann G
    Sounds promising but needs much more study and expansion of possibilities.  It might be helpful in helping the elderly who have had surgery, or are suffering from debilitating conditions, to get to a point where some exercise will be possible.  I would be especially  interested in seeing if it would be helpful mentally and/or emotionally.    
  • jon o
    jon o
    i have a solo flex platform--it helps your entire body. duct do tube exercises while standing
  • Karla a
    Karla a
    I think this is a wonderful idea! working as a CNA in many care facilities, I see inactivity in seniors poses many problems.,and believe something of this sort could be very benifical for stiff muscles, muscle loss and depression, to mention a few!! How rewarding it would be to begin to see improvments due to regular movement such as this!!I would be interested in a career reguarding this ! would like more info in getting started!!
  • Marte M
    Marte M
    I am interested in learning more about this concept and seeing related studies.  Balance is very important and it would be interesting to know if vibration be effective in increasing strength and balance with the result of a reduction of injuries related to falls!  Also building strength in general.
  • Sandra W
    Sandra W
    I really think this is a great form of exercise for those like myself.  I have tired it before.  I am 75 y/o and I was a member of the Pat Walker Reducing Salon era.   The program had the same type of machine for exercise.  I am also an RN & I could tell that it was good for me since as soon as I finished, I would always need restroom visits.  While I now am a patient of Psoriatic Arthritis, this would be beneficial to me.  I now have a massage recliner and it helps some.  Thanks, Sandra
  • Dr. Louis K
    Dr. Louis K
    I have seen NO evidenced based medicine RCT;'s that suggest this works.
  •  edith m
    edith m
    this is absolutely truei am a retired RN andgrandmother, and thefull-body vibrating machineat my chiropracter's officeis the most relaxing andenergizing "exercise"i have ever isvery beneficial
  • francisco c
    francisco c
    If you feel great using vibration platform  machine to feel good ,I suggest to continue doing your exercise. motivation and support its the key ,have faith on it and I hope u get to see result in short time ,
  • Clarence L
    Clarence L
    The vibrating platform sounds like something I could use. Is it something available to the user, or is it something that has to be done in the doctor's office?
  • Sheadorah M
    Sheadorah M
    A vibrating machine is not the answer to this issue. Chronically ill or disabled, and elderly patients are likely to be injured.It could be a shock to their body. An exercise program should start out slowly, especially with one who hasn't exercised in awhile.
  • La Verne G
    La Verne G
    I think the vibration exercise machine should be used as a catalyst to jump start or assist someone in a exercise regimen, however, on the days the machine is not being used to assist; the person/patient should use the strength gained from the use of the machine to engage in low risk calisthenics-for long term strength and performance.
  • KIRA B
    KIRA B
    I am curious in careers regarding this type of exercise.

Jobs to Watch