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8 October 2017

Exercising your airways

Whether it's in the bath, car or as part of a choir there is no doubt about it, singing is good for our health.


A positive vibe!

Singing can be joyful and uplifting, bringing positive feelings and helping to lift your mood even if you're feeling sad or depressed. Singing with a choir brings the added bonus of boosting your confidence as well as making you feel less isolated.

Singing for breathing

Recently research has also studied how singing with a group can help people living with a long term lung condition. It can improve your health-related quality of life, be a fun group activity to reduce social isolation, help improve your posture as well as increase the strength of your voice. One way it does this is by encouraging you to breathe more slowly and deeply.

In some lung conditions, like COPD, your airways are narrowed or obstructed. This can make it difficult to empty air out of your lungs when you breathe out, and air gets trapped in your lungs.

If you don’t empty your lungs effectively, you’ll only be able to ‘top up’ your breath – using the top of your chest to breathe, instead of your whole lungs. This uses muscles in your neck and shoulders which can get tired quickly.

Singing long phrases helps you lengthen your out-breath to empty your lungs. This helps to reduce the amount that you use muscles in your neck and shoulders when you take your next breath in. This saves energy and makes breathing more comfortable.

Singing for lung health leaders teach techniques to help you use your abdominal muscles more effectively when you sing. By using these muscles efficiently in song, you can strengthen them. This makes breathing, and singing, easier.

With the support from The British Lung Foundation, Singing for Breathing groups are popping up all over the country. Our local group, The Wigan Warblers, meet twice a week to exercise their airways. It doesn't matter if you don't have a perfect voice, they're a welcoming bunch who are always happy to see new members. They offer friendly support and a listening ear.


So how does it work?

The sessions begin with a warm up to get your voice and body ready for singing. The breathing exercises will help you to control your feelings of breathlessness and coordinate your breath with movement. Warming up also helps to protect your voice and vocal muscles. The singing for lung health leader will choose songs that are suitable for people with a lung condition, as well as being fun. Some songs will be sung in a call and response format so you can listen and repeat what the leader sings without having to read or think about what’s coming next.

Regular group singing can help make you feel less isolated. You can make new friends who will understand the challenges your challenges because they face them too. Its also a chance for you to share your experiences and help others.

Find out more

This article covers only a few of the benefits that can be gained from singing. If you're tempted to find out more, read patient stories or wish to find a group near you then check out The British Lung Foundation website.

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