What Is Whole-Body Vibration?

Whole-body vibration is a type of passive exercise during which a person stands on a rapidly vibrating plate, according to WebMD. The vibrations of the plate transmit energy to the whole body, causing involuntary muscle contractions and other physiological effects.

Proponents believe whole-body vibration has many health benefits, including weight loss, improved circulation, increased bone density, decreased body fat and improved muscle strength, explains WebMD. Additionally, companies who market vibration machines claim their use improves skin tone, decreases cellulite, decreases levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and enhances metabolism.

However, research substantiating these claims is lacking, says WebMD. As of 2015, the only benefits confirmed by scientific studies are improved bone density and muscle strength in geriatric patients with osteoporosis and those who could not perform traditional exercise due to poor health. Limited research also indicates that whole-body vibration sometimes helps with back pain and accelerates weight loss in people who limit calories, the Mayo Clinic explains.

Over time, whole body vibration is associated with heath risks, the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety reports. People exposed to whole-body vibration on the job, such as truck drivers, bus drivers and those who use vibrating tools, have developed circulatory and nervous system problems and disorders of the respiratory system, bowels and muscles. Some studies also indicate that whole-body vibration may lead to lower back pain, according to an abstract published on the National Institutes of Health website.