Mid-morning television would not be the same without infomercials describing the amazing benefits of whole body vibration training – but does it really do any good?

Whole body vibration training (WBVT) is promoted as the ultimate exercise for fitness, weight loss and muscle strength. Achieved without sweating or needing to leave the comforts of the lounge room.

WBV causes small muscle contractions as a standing platform rapidly oscillates up and down only a few millimetres. These oscillations activate a highly sophisticated balance feedback nerve response, designed to prevent falling. From within the central nervous system a pulse of nervous activity contracts muscles down one side of the body. The speed of the vibrations of the platform determines how fast the contractions change from side to side.

Does it work? There have been no scientific studies demonstrating the benefits of WBVT for weight loss or fitness. The jury is also out for WBVT as a technique to improve sport performance and bone health.

However, for a range of serious illnesses, including; pulmonary disease, recovering from a stroke, overcoming muscular injuries and dealing with chronic pain, the evidence is generally more positive.

But you cannot vibrate yourself to fitness or leanness.

Professor David Cameron-Smith is a regular Fit Planet contributor. A transplanted Australian living in New Zealand, he obtained a PhD in nutritional biochemistry from Deakin University, and undertook postdoctoral training at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney. His research interests include the importance of nutrition in the maintenance of optimal health in an ageing population, and the impact of nutrition in regulating the function of muscles.