Small vibrations can improve bone, increase muscle mass

Physical exercise is one of the principal recommendations for preventing and treating osteoporosis, but its effects are hard to assess. No one knows exactly how much of what type of exercise is needed to stimulate bone growth or counteract age-related bone loss, and not everyone responds the same way to the same physical activities. Most exercise programs result in modest bone density gains, about 1%–2%, in premenopausal women; in postmenopausal women, bone benefits are generally measured in bone mass preserved, not gained.

Moderate- to high-intensity regimens can work, but few adults can comply with them long-term, and women who have osteoporosis or are frail or disabled simply cannot participate in them. Most patients must rely on long-term drug therapy, but with the exception of parathyroid hormone, these medications don't actually stimulate new bone formation.

A new way to preserve and possibly build new bone involves simply standing for a few minutes a day on a gently oscillating platform the size and shape of a bathroom scale. Research thus far suggests that it can do at least as much for bone density as longer bouts of vigorous exercise, and it appears to strengthen bone literally from the inside out.

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