Bone shaking stops fractures in the elderly

An old exercise method – dating back around 200 years – can stop us losing bone density as we age, researchers have discovered this week.

Whole body vibration strengthens the bones, and prevents fractures, disability and death, say researchers at the Medical College of Georgia.  Twelve weeks of daily, 30-minute vibration can have a protective effect in people aged 55 to 65 years, they calculate.

The vibration improves bone density around the hip joint, the femur and the long leg bone – all of which reduces the likelihood of a hip fracture, one of the most common causes of disability in the elderly.

Researchers aren’t quite sure why vibration works so well, but they reckon it reactivates the body at the cellular level.

Whatever the reason, vibration machines are coming back into vogue, and are showing up in homes, gyms and rehabilitation clinics.

(Source: Bone, 2010; 47: 746).