Original research| Volume 101, ISSUE 7, P1111-1119, July 2020

Effects of Whole-Body Vibration Training on the Physical Function of the Frail Elderly: An Open, Randomized Controlled Trial

Published:March 04, 2020DOI:



      To investigate the feasibility and benefits of whole-body vibration (WBV) exercise as a safe and effective training tool for countering sarcopenia and age-related declines in mobility and function in the frail elderly.


      An open, randomized controlled trial.


      Residential care facilities.


      Male and female volunteers (N=117; 82.5±7.9y).


      After prescreening for contraindications, participants were randomly allocated to a control, simulated WBV (SIM), or WBV exercise group. All participants received regular care, whereas WBV and SIM participants also underwent thrice-weekly exercise sessions for 16 weeks. Delivered by overload principle, WBV training began with 5 × 1-minute bouts at 6 Hz/2 mm (1:1 min exercise:rest), progressing to 10 × 1 minute at up to 26 Hz/4 mm, maintaining knee flexion. Training for SIM participants mimicked WBV exercise stance and duration only.

      Main Outcome Measures

      The timed Up and Go, Parallel Walk, and 10-m Timed Walk (10mTW) tests performance were assessed, in addition to the Barthel Index Questionnaire, at baseline, 8, and 16 weeks of exercise, and 3, 6, and 12 months postexercise.


      High levels of compliance were reported in SIM (89%) and WBV training (93%), with ease of use and no adverse effects. In comparison to baseline levels, WBV training elicited clinically important treatment effects in all parameters compared to SIM and control groups. Treatment effects remained apparent up to 12 months postintervention for Parallel Walk Test and 6 months for 10mTW Test. Functional test performance declined during and postintervention in non-WBV groups.


      Findings indicate that 16 weeks of low-level WBV exercise provides easily accessible, adequate stimulus for the frail elderly to attain improved levels of physical functionality.


      List of abbreviations:

      10mTW (10-m Timed Walk Test), PWT (Parallel Walk Test), SIM (simulated WBV), TUG (timed Up and Go), WBV (whole-body vibration)
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