For obese, are vibrations as good as exercise?

STONY BROOK (US) — Low-intensity vibrations may be as beneficial as exercise for people who are obese, new research suggests.

As reported online in the FASEB Journal, the vibrations led to improvements in the immune function of obese mice by restoring B and T-cell populations, diminishing the consequences of obesity. Scientists believe if the same effect can be found in people, daily exposure to such vibrations could have clinical benefits for people suffering from a wide ranges of immune problems related to obesity.

“This study demonstrates that mechanical signals can help restore an immune system compromised by obesity,” says Clinton Rubin, professor and chair of Biomedical Engineering , and director of the Center for Biotechnology at Stony Brook University.

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“While it is well known that obesity can cripple many physiologic systems, this work suggests that mechanical signals—in the absence of drugs—can help combat this disease and its sequelae.

“That these mechanical signals are so brief, and so mild, is further evidence of how exquisitely tuned our body is to external signals, and that remaining active—climbing stairs at work, taking a walk at lunch, standing while reading a book—will help achieve and retain good health.”

In the study Rubin and colleagues fed a group of adult mice a high fat diet for seven months to make them obese. At the end of this first phase of the experiment, the damage to the immune and skeletal systems of the obese mice was significant, decreasing B- and T-cell populations in the blood, and markedly accelerating the loss of bone.

The second phase began after the mice were obese relative to regular controls, with the creation of a sub-group that was subjected to daily 15-minute bouts of low-intensity vibration, barely perceptible to human touch.

The results showed that the vibration intervention helped to rescue both the immune and skeletal systems, returning them toward outcomes measured in mice that were fed a regular diet. The study also provides evidence that obesity markedly reduces the production of B- and T-cells and that brief daily exposure to low magnitude mechanical signals rescues B- and T-cell populations, even in a mouse that is already obese.

“Understanding the role of the stem cell niche in promulgating obesity-related disorders, and the salutary action of mechanical signals, may ultimately contribute to a unique nondrug treatment strategy for a host of diabetes- and obesity-related health problems,” the authors conclude.

The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health through the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.

Source: Stony Brook University