We look at the benefits of WBV for keeping fit in middle age
Exercise is something we know to be good for us, but we aren’t getting enough. According to the British Heart Foundation, more than 20 million people in Britain are physically inactive. And in fact, women are more likely to be inactive than men – 11.8 million women compared with 8.3 million men.
Why aren’t we exercising?
Maybe we have confused being busy with being active. We are on the go all day, working, running homes and caring for families. It’s easy to see this as ‘physical activity’, except it’s not the type of physical activity that improves our health or helps us avoid illness and disease as we get older.
There is also the connotation of exercise, often associated with sport, the competitive type we played at school, sometimes in cold conditions and under duress. Exercise should never be seen as a punishment but as an activity that enriches our lives, extends it and prepares us for later years. Old age wouldn’t be associated with fragility if we spent more of our early life physically preparing for it. Exercise helps retain muscle, strengthen bone, regulate weight, helps to reduce the effect of illness and disease and enhances flexibility and balance. Exercise can improve sleep, stimulate the brain and relieve stress.
If exercise is such a powerful ‘medicine’ why aren’t more of us taking it?
If you’ve never exercised, are overcoming illness or injury or have lapsed in your fitness routine it’s hard to get started again. I know this, as someone who has exercised for most of my life, when last year I injured my knee slipping in the snow. In the past, an injury like this would heal quickly and I would soon be back to running. At 57 this wasn’t the case, my knee took longer to heal and needed a course of physiotherapy sessions and targeted exercises. One of the many drawbacks of getting older is that our bodies take longer to heal – there is no bounce back like years ago.
Luckily, during my recovery I was contacted by Richard Millard, the founder of Energy for Health, a company offering innovative and affordable equipment for maintaining health and fitness at home. Richard has spent many years studying exercise, especially passive exercise during his decade living in Japan.
One of the products Energy for Health offers is the FlexxiCore Challenger, a Whole Body Vibration training platform. I had heard about Whole Body Vibration and seen Power Plate equipment in gyms in the past, but I had never used one consistently or researched the benefits. We arranged for me to carry out a trial to see exactly how the FlexxiCore Challenger could not only aid my recovery but also improve my fitness levels.
What is Whole Body Vibration (WBV)
Also known as Acceleration Training and Biomechanical Oscillation, Whole Body Vibration was originally developed in Russia to assist astronauts in recovering from muscle atrophy and Olympic athletes improve strength and flexibility. The system can actively and effectively work all muscle groups intensively over a short period of time. The benefits include toned and strengthened muscles and connective tissue, easing of pain, tension and stiffness, an improvement in posture, better flexibility and circulation, and improved sleep.
By simply standing on the FlexxiCore Challenger, your whole body is put to the test. As your body instinctively works to retain your balance, the automatic responses from your muscles and nervous system are worked by the FlexxiCore's constantly changing patterns of vibrational frequencies and oscillations. Although challenging, the FlexxiCore Challenger puts no strain or stress on the body yet can achieve results akin to working muscles with weights.
The benefits of Whole Body Vibration include:
- Energy levels and stamina
- Fitness performance levels
- Pain and headaches
- Sleep patterns
- Physical and mental energy
- Aches, stiffness, tightness, physical tension, flexibility of muscles and joints
- Back care
- Stress and tension release
- Circulation, blood pressure, breathing
- Motivation to exercise
- Core strength
- Bowels, bladder control
- Bone density
- Mental health and emotional benefits
What is the FlexxiCore Challenger?
It is a compact home-use exercise platform utilising Whole Body Vibration Training to safely and effectively work your entire body in a short space of time. With 10 speed settings the FlexxiCore Challenger can be used in manual mode, or with 3 pre-set programmes, Warm-up, Refresh and Stimulate, offering a changing range of speeds within a 10 minute routine.
What was my experience of the FlexxiCore Challenger over a 30 day trial?
My starting point was fairly low as I hadn’t exercised for 6 months while my knee recovered. For the first week of the trial I used the FlexxiCore Challenger in the pre-set Warm-up programme. I had been advised that less is more and to not over use the equipment as this isn’t the key to best results. After the first session I felt revitalised and had the best night’s sleep for months, sleeping undisturbed throughout the night.
I very quickly started to enjoy and look forward to my sessions on it. I had no ill effects and my knee started to feel more comfortable even after sitting at the computer for long periods of time.
I was enjoying the FlexxiCore so much that I skipped a pre-set level and went straight to Stimulate. I noticed my mood starting to change, I felt more positive and my productivity levels and concentration were definitely improved. I had better muscle tone and even noticed I was standing straighter with my shoulders back. My balance had started to improve, something my physio had been working on previously but it had been slow progress before using the FlexxiCore Challenger. I had even become aware of the muscles in my chest, similar to when I have used weight-bearing equipment in the gym. I honestly wasn’t expecting to see results this quickly on my upper body.
I continued using the FlexxiCore Challenger daily and found that early morning is the best time for me. I noticed how much better the skin on my legs looked, I have a lot of spider veins and these looked less obvious. WBV helps move the lymph around the body and stimulates circulation making veins look less obvious and your circulatory system more efficient. My muscle tone was starting to look as it would if I had been running consistently. I found myself wanting to run up escalators, something I hadn’t done since injuring my knee. My bust had lifted, and I could no longer do the pencil test! For any woman in her late fifties this is remarkable! The last time my upper body looked this good, was when I worked out three times a week in the gym with weights.
There is something slightly addictive about the FlexxiCore Challenger. By week four I was really looking forward to using the equipment daily. My mood and sleeping patterns were greatly improved, my balance was so much better and my muscle tone impressive, especially considering I hadn’t been near a gym or got back into running. Discomfort in my knee had practically disappeared, so I upped my game, I started ‘working out’ on the FlexxiCore Challenger. I introduced hand weights and made sure to do squats and stretches while on the equipment. My body definitely was wobbling much less than it did when I started the trial, it was changing shape and looking well-toned. My feet even improved, I had more movement in my toes. My productivity levels were increased, and I had far more flexibility.
Conclusion and measurements after the four week trial
The FlexxiCore Challenger, a Whole Body Vibration machine, is a valuable piece of equipment for exercising the body without strain or injury. What it can’t replace is a cardio workout. So, assuming you are fit enough to carry out a cardio routine, you will still need to undertake this type of activity for all round fitness. That said, if you have never or rarely exercised regularly, using the FlexxiCore Challenger is an ideal place to start. After using the equipment consistently for four weeks, my knee was without pain, I could squat again without discomfort and I had improved muscle tone all over the body. I felt more positive and productive, and I was sleeping better. I have returned to running without any discomfort in my knee and I am continuing to use the FlexxiCore Challenger as part of my day to day exercise routine.
Over the four week period I lost an inch from my hips and waist, and half an inch from my chest and thighs. My weight remained unchanged, but I know many people lose weight using WBV.
Why buy the FlexxiCore Challenger
The FlexxiCore Challenger is well constructed, the motors are quiet, the controls easy to use and it rolls away taking up little space when not in use. In my opinion, it is excellent value for money when compared with most home use equipment and annual gym membership. As with all exercise routines and equipment, compliance is crucial, you do need to use the equipment on a regular basis to see good results. You can trial the equipment in your own home as Energy for Health offer a 60-day money back guarantee.
Visit the Energy for Health website for more details on the results of their trials.
You might also like to read Becky Chambers book Whole Body Vibration: The Future of Good Health available from Amazon.
The FlexxiCore Challenger is £870.00 available from FlexxiCore.com - 10% discount is available to Fighting Fifty readers by using the code FF50 at checkout
The FlexiCorre Challenger was on loan from Energy for Health for this review
Please check with your doctor before undertaking any new exercise routine