For the women who suffer from osteoporosis from loss of bone mass, there may be good news for them. Experiments on a new device shows that it can help improve bone mass in women who suffer from the disease.
Weight-bearing exercise is one of the principal recommendations for preventing and treating the loss of bone density that can lead to osteoporosis. However, exercise isn't always possible, particularly for the frail.
An experimental device may help solve this problem, reports the October issue of the Harvard Women's Health Watch. Research strongly suggests that a few minutes of standing on an oscillating platform, about the size and shape of a bathroom scale, can do as much for bone density as longer bouts of more typical weight-bearing exercise.
Users stand on the platform while it produces small, barely perceptible vibrations that mimic what muscle cells do during common activities such as standing, maintaining balance, and walking. These tiny muscle contractions exert many small stresses on the bone, which can promote bone-building activity. Bones become stronger literally from the inside out.
The device is not yet available in the United States. A large clinical trial is being planned to gather the data required for FDA approval, although the machine will be marketed in other countries by the end of this year.
Harvard Women's Health Watch cautions that even if the device becomes available in the United State, you shouldn't put away your walking shoes—exercise conveys many other health benefits besides keeping bones strong. But for women who can't participate in more vigorous physical activity, the device may prove quite useful.