When one thinks of aging, space age technologies usually aren’t the first thing to come to mind. However, recent breakthroughs with astronauts have wide ranging applications for the health and wellness of seniors. A class of machine known as vibrating exercise equipment is making it’s way from outer space into our homes. To understand the significance of these machines to the elderly, one first has to look into issues with space travel.
Space agencies have noticed that as astronauts live in space, their bodies undergo changes similar to that seen in older individuals. Many of the symptoms of long term space flight are directly analogous to diseases and conditions associated with the normal aging process. Some of the most severe of these conditions include advanced muscle atrophy and loss of bone density. Scientists spent quite a bit of time working to understand why these changes were occurring within the bodies of otherwise healthy young men and women in space. In studying why a person’s body begins to fail under prolonged exposure to zero gravity conditions, the scientists also found ways to treat these effects here on earth.
The basic problem for both the elderly and people in zero gravity environments is that their bodies were unable to properly receive the stimulation needed to stay strong. While the underlying reasons were different, a similar treatment turned out to be effective for both groups. This treatment is known as whole body vibration. For readily apparent reasons, a device which can provide that treatment is known as a vibration fitness machine.
While one can easily grasp the nature of a vibration fitness machine, it’s important to go into more detail to understand just why it’s so useful to the elderly. Scientists discovered that the astronauts were losing mobility due to a “use it or lose it” principle. This is, in a sense, what’s also occurring in the vast majority of people as we age.
The human body is a finely tuned machine which depends on all elements within itself to function. Damage one underlying mechanism of our body, and the rest will tend to suffer in some way. As time goes by these damaging processes can accumulate in an exponential manner. A few minor health issues can rapidly turn into a falling house of cards, and before we know it we’re unable to even walk.
Vibrating exercise equipment will, in a sense, take over for lost functionality to keep us healthy. Consider someone who’s just starting to acquire a bit of damage to their legs. Perhaps they had a bad fall at some point, perhaps they’re developing arthritis and perhaps it’s simply the normal wear and tear of age. However this person wound up with it, they have a small impairment with their legs. Now consider what happens as they continue to grow older. The individual will place weight on other parts of their feet and leg to compensate for the damage. Meanwhile, the part of the leg which was initially hurt will begin to atrophy from lack of use. The other muscle, in turn, will sustain damage from having so much weight put on it all the time.
What’s needed is a way of stimulating the muscles which aren’t getting enough of a workout. This is where the vibration machines come into play. They can vibrate the muscle tissue, which is essentially giving it a workout. The major factor here is that it’s a workout without any interference from environmental factors, or heavy weight added on. The vibration simply stimulates the muscle in order to build up strength. This way, even if something is preventing the muscle from getting normal use, the vibration will compensate for that damage by directly exercising the tissue.
By working out with the vibration, the muscle will eventually grow, heal, and acquire lost strength and flexibility. One might need to continue use of the vibrations on the muscle, but the important thing is that over time the body will adapt to that workout and stay strong and healthy even into one’s golden years. The most amazing part of the process is that this can work wonders for people even after they may feel the damage has progressed too far. Underlying age related damage can prevent normal workouts from being very effective. This lack of progress can make older people feel that their body has simply given out to them. However, the vibration machines can simply bypass the conditions which were preventing muscle gain and repair in order to help a person once again lead a happy and healthy life. It’s worked in space, and it’s proven even more effective here on earth.