Have you ever seen those old movies of people using body vibration machines for “exercise” (see photo)? Well, apparently the principle behind those machines isn’t total BS. Although whole body vibration (WBV) might not make you lose weight or get in better shape, it can actually provide some of the same brain-stimulating benefits as exercise. More specifically, as shown by this study, WBV can improve one’s attention and inhibition (the ability to tune out irrelevant stimuli). The authors hypothesize that WBV improves these aspects of cognitive function by producing similar physiological responses as exercise, including increased oxygen uptake and heart rate. I’ll shake on that!
“This study investigated the acute effects of passive whole body vibration (WBV) on executive functions in healthy young adults. Participants (112 females, 21 males; age: 20.5±2.2 years) underwent six passive WBV sessions (frequency 30 Hz, amplitude approximately 0.5 mm) and six non-vibration control sessions of two minutes each while sitting on a chair mounted on a vibrating platform. A passive WBV session was alternated with a control session. Directly after each session, performance on the Stroop Color-Block Test (CBT), Stroop Color-Word Interference Test (CWIT), Stroop Difference Score (SDS) and Digit Span Backward task (DSBT) was measured. In half of the passive WBV and control sessions the test order was CBT-CWIT-DSBT, and DSBT-CBT-CWIT in the other half. Passive WBV improved CWIT (p = 0.009; effect size r = 0.20) and SDS (p = 0.034; r = 0.16) performance, but only when the CBT and CWIT preceded the DSBT. CBT and DSBT performance did not change. This study shows that two minutes passive WBV has positive acute effects on attention and inhibition in young adults, notwithstanding their high cognitive functioning which could have hampered improvement. This finding indicates the potential of passive WBV as a cognition-enhancing therapy worth further evaluation, especially in persons unable to perform active forms of exercise.”