A jogger runs along the shoreline in Portstewart in Northern Ireland / PETER MUHLY/AFP/Getty Images

During whole-body vibration, muscles contract and relax multiple times per second

Sitting, standing or lying down on a vibrating platform could be just as effective as regular exercise, a new study has found.

The activity known as whole-body vibration is less strenuous than climbing a hill or cycling, but may provide similar benefits, said researchers at Augusta University in Georgia.

Tests on mice showed vibration helped them maintain muscle and bone health, with obese and diabetic mice experiencing the same positive effects from both vibration and regular exercise.

“Our study is the first to show that whole-body vibration may be just as effective as exercise at combatting some of the negative consequences of obesity and diabetes,” said Meghan McGee-Lawrence, who led the research.

“However, because our study was conducted in mice, this idea needs to be rigorously tested in humans to see if the results would be applicable to people.”

During whole-body vibration, muscles contract and relax multiple times per second.

Vibration plates and electronic abdomen muscle stimulators are already widely available, but there is some debate over how effective they are.

The mice were made to walk for 45 minutes on a treadmill with a slight incline or spend 20 minutes on a whole-body vibration machine every day for three months.

While no significant difference was seen in young, healthy mice, both walking and whole-body vibration enhanced muscle mass and insulin sensitivity in genetically obese mice.

The obese mice also gained less weight after both types of activity than a third group who did no exercise at all, said the study, published in the journal Endocrinology.

“While whole-body vibration did not fully address the defects in bone mass of the obese mice in our study, it did increase global bone formation, suggesting longer-term treatments could hold promise for preventing bone loss as well,” said Dr McGee-Lawrence.

More than a quarter of adults in the UK are obese. Obesity, which affects more than a quarter of adults in the UK, can raise the risk of serious conditions including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer.