A Whole Body Vibrator

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My kids play in a park with plastic tunnels, cute, short plastic slides with raised rails, and a cushioned ground. It’s quite unlike the Houston playground of my childhood. I grew up in the 1970s and 80s. Though always a little gray from second-hand smoke, I still had plenty of energy to spend every afternoon outdoors.  I was not a Tom boy, but being motherless had deprived me of that extra drop of femininity (French braids!) needed to be a true girly-girl. To make matters worse, I wasn’t tough enough to play sports with the boys. I also could not elegantly swing my knees over the metal bars of the  dome-shaped jungle gym, girly-girl style, and hang upside down. All such attempts at coordination and grace  led to me falling straight down onto my head.  And unlike my kids’ playground, the ground was not made of rubber flooring. 

The slide at my playground was particularly dangerous. It had the bendability of a disposable aluminum baking pan, must have been ten feet tall, and was fry-an-egg-on-it hot in the Houston sun. Still, my brother and I hurled ourselves down it head-first, burning our hands and thighs, and then landing either in a pile of hard dirt or a mosquito-infested puddle of rain water.  As the children of hippies  before the modern safety era – and until someone had the good sense to invent Atari and get us indoors – we lived in the golden years of no supervision.

Unsupervised I may have often been, but I did have a fairy godmother. Her name was Betty. She was about my grandmother’s age, Christian, and childless. I was Jewish and motherless. We were a perfectly inverse match. Betty could express her Christian kindness and desire to nurture by baking pink flower-shaped cookies for me and inviting me to Christmas dinner. And I, a neurosis prodigy, could wonder if God would punish me for loving Christmas, and cookies that might not have been kosher. And for recognizing the upside of not having a mother: I could eat as many cookies as I wanted.

Whole Body Vibration Could Be Effective in Treating Type 2 Diabetes

Betty’s husband, Monroe, was also terribly kind. A tall literary critic who spoke with a Southern drawl, he was serious most of the time. But he was the first to recognize my restlessness at holiday gatherings. He’d watch me and my brother fidgeting in our chairs, waiting for what we knew was coming, the highlight of every trip to Betty and Monroe’s house… The Great Vibrating Machine.

Monroe would lead us from the dining room along plush white carpet paved in clear vinyl runners. We passed flowered sofas and old books before we reached the spare bedroom where we’d get to play with a machine that was even more adrenalizing than Sit ‘n Spin, the toy that gave a generation of children their inaugural migraines.

The base of the great vibrating machine was light blue. It looked  like a cross between a physician’s scale and a proto-treadmill, but with a thick strap attached. To get vibrated you would step inside the belt (which must have fit adults around the waist, but was pretty much on my neck), press the ‘on’ button, and it would just shake the f**k out of you.  I would later learn that the vibrating machine was an exercise fad, a purported slimming device, not a cunning way to misalign children’s spines. 

When I occasionally reminisce about napping in the back of station wagons, or being given carcinogenic green slime to play with, I think of the vibrating machine, too, the belt-burn on my cheeks, and the stiff neck. I have wondered if anyone ever did lose weight with that machine. My presumption has been that if anyone had it’s because intense vibrating led to dizziness and nausea, which then suppressed appetite. Turns out, there may actually be more to it than that. My proof, researchers have been vibrating mice, and “a new study suggests that whole body vibration—in which one lies or stands on a vibrating platform to mimic the effects of exercise—might be just as beneficial in promoting weight loss, and in preventing and treating type 2 diabetes, as lacing up your running shoes and hitting the open road.

“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,” says Meghan E. McGee-Lawrence, Ph.D., of Augusta University, who is a lead author of the study published in the journal Endocrinology. “The results are surprising and encouraging.”

See here for more about the good vibrations.

 

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Katy

My grandma with T1d used to put me in her spa’s vibration machine after we went in the sauna!

Thanks for the memories.

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