Tis the season for a good song – from Chanukah Hymns to Christmas Carols to your long-awaited Spotify Unwrapped. Could singing along be good for your lungs?
Singing as a practice involves vocal warm-up sessions and breathing exercises that require you to breathe deeper and control your breathing. These exercises, along with the actual singing, can help you strengthen the vocal cords, build breath control, and utilize the lungs' full capacity. Singing was recently found to increase blood oxygen in a simulated high-altitude environment. It has also been known to release happy hormones such as serotonin, endorphins, and dopamine.
The vocal arts aren't just for ballad-belting, mountain climbing lungs. Singing can even be recommended for people with respiratory conditions. One study suggests that singing and playing certain wind instruments can be helpful for people with obstructive sleep apnea. Another study where people with a snoring problem were made to sing found that singing practice may be helpful in the treatment of snoring. More research is needed, but a recent review on signing for lung health suggests the potential to improve quality of life without causing any significant side effects.
In London, an initiative called Breathe Sing for Lung Health has shown us how singing can even bring people together across distances... The program offers online singing sessions with a vocal coach with the goal of helping people manage symptoms such as breathlessness. It also aims to combat isolation through singing. The participant testimonials speak for themselves.
So whether you're home alone or out caroling in the streets this holiday season, don't let a little shyness hold you back from singing your favorite songs.