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. You can find them on Twitter.