If you think that to slow down aging you have to engage in a complicated program of strenuous exercise custom-designed to fit your age and abilities, think again.
Yes, some sort of physical activity like daily walking is a good idea for staying younger, but researchers have found there’s a pretty simple way to merely stand in place – in the right place – and engage in a powerful anti-aging process.
Not many people take advantage of this discovery, but maybe we should.
Where is the right place to stand?
On a vibrating platform.
The activity is called whole-body vibration. It usually involves standing on a vibrating platform for about 20 minutes a day. Some of these vibrating machines also allow you to sit or lie down while you vibrate. The vibrations penetrate your muscles, which then tighten and relax many times every second. And some people report that at the end of a vibrating session they feel as though they had exercised.
The secret to whole-body vibration’s anti-aging benefits, say researchers, is the way it affects your inner physiology – increasing bone strength and toning muscles while influencing (in a good way) blood sugar levels and body fat.
Lab tests at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta show that 20 minutes a day of vibrating may shrink your waistline and reduce the harmful inflammation that results from the substances released by belly fat. It can also limit fat deposits in the liver. All those changes can lead to a body that functions at a younger, healthier capacity.
Stimulates Release Of a Youth Hormone
The researchers note that one of the biggest benefits offered by whole-body vibration is the fact that it stimulates the release of extra amounts of the hormone osteocalcin from the skeletal system. This hormone is a protein manufactured by bone cells called osteoblasts.
Along with making bones stronger, osteocalcin (which we wrote about in Issue #26) also possesses important anti-aging properties. It strengthens muscles and helps to keep blood sugar from getting too high. In the brain, it can shore up your memory and learning abilities as you get older.
You Got to Keep on Movin’
The Georgia researchers have been surprised to learn that simple movement, especially the kind of rapid movement produced by vibrating the body, seems to be the key to making the cells in our body healthier. In their investigations, they found that merely shaking muscle and bone cells in a petri dish made them produce increased amounts of health-boosting natural chemicals.
Aside from your muscles and bones, research shows that whole-body vibration does good things for the pancreas, the organ that makes insulin and plays a key part in controlling blood sugar. The vibrations make the pancreas more sensitive to sugar levels in the body and help it to adjust insulin levels more closely matched to the body’s needs.
Other benefits of whole-body vibration include:
- Improving the health of people who are pre-diabetic or diabetic. A daily vibrating session may lower inflammation, improve insulin sensitivity and even reduce problems with frequent urination when you are pre-diabetic or diabetic.
- Helping people who have had strokes walk better. When combined with a walking program, whole-body vibration helps stroke victims regain their walking abilities faster.
- Possibly aiding senior citizens in being able to keep their balance better and avoid falls.
- Reducing pain and depression in people with fibromyalgia.
All of the research that now shows great benefits for whole-body vibration also fits well with the evidence that sitting down for long periods of time ages the body and is a serious health hazard. The separate findings look like flip sides of the same coin.
When you sit still for too long, you’re depriving your cells of the shaking and moving around they need to keep their physiological functions operating at their peak. Too much time in a chair encourages senility in the body’s organs.
A great thing about whole-body vibration is that you can get started fairly cheaply – vibrating platforms can be bought for as little as a hundred dollars. And just about no matter what physical shape you’re in, you can start using a vibrating platform immediately. They appear to be safe for nearly everyone, but if you have balance problems or you’re unsteady on your feet or prone to fainting, caution is advised.