The effect of whole body vibration training on physical functioning and risk of falling in older people living in sheltered housing


In the early 2000s, there was growing interest in the effects of whole body vibration training on physical functioning, bone strength and health in general. During vibration training the body can experience dozens of ground reaction forces per second through the feet, whereas normal walking or running only creates a few forces per second. Therefore, whole body vibration training could enable quicker and more efficient training than traditional exercise.

It has been discovered that whole body vibration training has a positive effect on older people's balance. There is at least reasonable scientific evidence to suggest older people can benefit from whole body vibration training as it is known to increase muscle strength. In terms of balance, the evidence can be considered strong. Whole body vibration training could, therefore, be a good alternative training method to prevent falls and fall-related injuries among older people living in sheltered housing or in a nursing home.


The aim of the study is to investigate the effects of whole body vibration training on the physical functioning and risk of falling in older people living in or regularly using the services of sheltered housing. In addition, the aim is to monitor the permanence of the effects.

The hypothesis is that whole body vibration training improves the participants' physical functioning and significantly reduces their fear of falling and the number of falls. This change is also expected to be reflected in a reduction of injuries. Improved physical functioning and a reduced fear of falling are expected to increase independent activity and thus create other health benefits.


The study is a 10-week (double-blind) randomised controlled training intervention (RCT) with a 10-month follow-up period. The blinding will be carried out so that the participants will not know the actual research question. One group will take part in individual whole body vibration training twice a week, while the other group will take part in group flexibility and stretching training once a week. Training will be supervised in both groups. The researchers will not know the group of the participants.

The study has been recruiting over 65-year-old people who live in sheltered housing or regularly use services provided by sheltered housing and who are able to walk independently (with or without a walking aid). The participants are also required to not have suffered significant cognitive impairments or have had a hip or knee prosthesis or other factors that prevent whole body vibration training. The study will recruit approx. 200 participants on the basis of a medical examination.

After the initial tests, the participants will be randomly assigned to the groups. The training intervention will be carried out in the participating sheltered homes so that the researchers have a chance to collect the necessary data and so that there is enough variation in seasons.

The tests will be conducted at the beginning of the research before randomisation and repeated after the 10-week intervention period and again at the end of the study, after the 10-month follow-up period.

The primary outcome measures are physical functioning (SPPB), fear of falling (FES-I) and the number of falls. Falls are monitored through fall diaries collected every month. The aim is to finish data collection during the first half of 2014, after which the results will be analysed and reported.


When carried out and administered appropriately, whole body vibration training can offer a quick and easy way of improving the physical functioning of people living in sheltered housing and at the same time encourage them to be more active. Thus, the general health benefits of exercise also increase. Whole body vibration training can easily be carried out in various types of sheltered housing facilities for the elderly, not only at commercial gyms.

It is also possible to connect a personal smart card to the training equipment, allowing training to be administered in a controlled and safe manner.

Whole body vibration training can provide diverse health-related benefits. However, there is not enough strong and convincing scientific evidence yet. This study will increase and specify significantly the current knowledge about the health benefits of whole body vibration training and its implementation among the elderly, especially those living in sheltered housing. The study will help create recommendations for safe whole body vibration training among the elderly.



Int. registration

Clinical Trials NCT0153600



Harri Sievänen, Research Director



For publications (international and Finnish) of this research see the Finnish description.
To find the list of publications (Julkaisuja), scroll the page down. 

Last Modified: 27.11.2014


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