EDITION: June - August 2010


Helen Howard

In our increasingly health conscious culture, most people recognise the importance of doing some kind of exercise. The benefits, revealed both through personal experience and scientific research include better cardiovascular health, weight loss, increased protection against a variety of minor and major ailments, and the production of endorphins and other “feel good” neurotransmitters. Exercise as an activity in its own right has perhaps become more important as people find themselves with fewer and fewer opportunities to be significantly active in the process of day to day living.

From a very early age children are often expected to curtail their natural desire for movement, particularly in educational and social settings. Elements of this continue into adulthood with most of us typically spending long periods in environments where movement is restricted by space and social convention. Meanwhile, we have developed an increasingly sedentary approach to leisure – most “living” rooms are set up around the concept of a TV and a sofa, and are not designed to do anything active in.

In many areas of life, machines have replaced a lot of our previously physical and manual activities, and all of this coincides with a time where we have almost unlimited access to tempting foods – foods which are much higher in fats and sugars than would normally occur in nature. Taking everything into account, it is not surprising that many people have become overweight, or at least quite out of condition – and once in this state it can be difficult to imagine the sense of well being that could come from being physically fit, let alone to find the motivation to push through any initial feelings of resistance or discomfort. A significant number of people are also put off exercise because of pain or injury.

Amidst all of these factors, it is interesting to discover that there are tools available which can help to reawaken the body’s natural inclination and capacity for exercise. Last week, I was offered a trial session of a new device called the “Miha Bodytech”. Its function is to activate specific muscle groups using controlled electrical, muscular stimulation. This in turn builds up muscle, and supports the breakdown of excess fat and cellulite. As with conventional exercise, it also improves circulation in the organs and tissues and generates the aforementioned mood enhancing neurotransmitters. My session was guided by Keith, a certified personal trainer. One of his roles is to focus on any specific areas of concern. He usually recommends a workout schedule of twice a week, each session lasting around 30 to 40 minutes. He mentioned that a programme like this delivers significantly quicker results than can be obtained with conventional exercise – which is probably very useful for those who are keen to make progress, or for those for whom time is a premium.

The process involves putting on a jacket, which looks a bit like the top half of a wet suit, with additional straps for the legs and arms. Pads (electrodes) inside the jacket are moistened to make contact with various muscle zones. They are connected to and controlled by a console about the size of a laptop. Whilst hooked up, one performs movements which can be anything from very gentle to quite vigorous, depending on capacity and preference. If necessary, the exercise session can be done while sitting or lying down. Each of the 10 muscle zones the system affects can be individually monitored and controlled.

It seems that there are a growing number of medical applications for the device- for example, in pain relief, and post-operative muscle development. It can also be useful in the treatment of pelvic floor weakness and persistent muscle cramps. Of particular interest is the claim that it is highly effective in treating lower back problems – one of the most common causes of pain and disability – the reason being that it can reach deep muscle tissue, which is often difficult or impossible to get to through conventional exercise.

Another of its uses is in helping those who want to reshape their bodies and have not found this so easy to do. Even after regular exercising, many of us have what we regard as 'problem areas', often located around the stomach, buttocks and thighs. The device is said to be particularly effective in reducing fat, specifically unwanted cellulite in these areas by deeply activating and increasing the blood flow in the muscle and connective tissue. Whilst some perhaps feel that this is taking things a step too far, there will always remain a significant number of people who are so unhappy with what they perceive to be their flaws that they may be tempted to resort to extreme dieting or surgery – this non invasive method appears to offer a better solution.

So for those who need to find the incentive to get going, those who have pain or bodily restrictions and even those who feel they just want a little extra help with body shaping, it may be worth investigating whether a few sessions could be of benefit. There are so many different forms of exercise out there, each one having something different to offer – as with everything in life, it is all about finding the right key.

Text: Helen Howard