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Can Vibration Plates Shake off Weight?

If Used Properly, Vibration Plates May Trim Belly Fat and Spur Weight Loss, Study Says

By Jennifer Warner
WebMD Health News

Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD

May 11, 2009 -- If used properly, vibration plate machines may help overweight or obese people trim their belly fat and achieve long-term weight loss.

A new study shows that obese women who followed a weight loss diet and regularly used the vibration plate machines were more successful at long-term weight loss and losing hard-to-trim belly fat than those who combined dieting with a more conventional exercise routine.

“These are very encouraging results, but it doesn't mean people trying to lose weight can ditch aerobic exercise and jump on the vibration plate instead. They still need a healthy diet and aerobic exercise, but this could be a viable alternative to weightlifting,” researcher Dirk Vissers, a physiotherapist at the Artesis University College and the University of Antwerp in Belgium, says in a news release.

Researchers say the machines are becoming increasingly common in gyms and have gained a devoted following, but until now there has not been any evidence that they help with weight loss.

Vibrating Fights Fat

In the study, researchers looked at the effects of using vibration plate machines in combination with a calorie-reduced diet in achieving weight loss in 61 obese or overweight adults, mostly women.

The participants were divided into four groups: diet alone, diet plus vibration plate exercise program, diet plus conventional exercise program of cycling, swimming, running, and other activities, and a control group that did nothing.

The vibration plate training consisted of physical therapist-supervised exercises performed on the machines, such as squats, lunges, calf raises, push-ups, and abdominal crunches. The duration of the exercises gradually intensified from 30 seconds for each of 10 exercises to 60 seconds for each of 22 exercises.

Each group followed its program for six months and was then asked to continue on its own with diet and exercise for another six months. Besides monitoring participants' weight, deep belly fat was measured by abdominal CT scans during the study period.

“Over the year, only the conventional fitness and vibration groups managed to maintain a 5% weight loss, which is what is considered enough to improve health,” Vissers says.

Overall, the vibration plate group lost the highest percentage of weight with an average loss of 11% of their body weight in the first six months and maintained a 10.5% loss after a year compared to a 7% initial body weight loss in the diet and conventional exercise group, which maintained a 6.9% loss.

In addition, the vibration plate group lost the most belly fat and kept it off for the entire year compared to the other three groups.

“People say vibration machines are fitness for lazy people. It may feel like a short cut, but if it's easy, you are not doing it properly,” Vissers says. “Supervision in the beginning is imperative and the longer the better. What we see in gyms very often -- people just standing on the machine holding the handles -- is not going to do anything.”

The results were presented at ECO 2009 -- The 17th European Congress on Obesity in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

SOURCES: ECO 2009 -- The 17th European Congress on Obesity, Amsterdam, Netherlands, May 6-9, 2009. News release, ECO 2009 - The 17th European Congress on Obesity.

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