There’s increasing evidence that singing regularly as part of a group is good for your general health and wellbeing, especially if you have a lung condition. Around one in five of the UK population will receive a diagnosis of lung disease in their lifetime and there are currently 1.2 million people in the UK with a diagnosis of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Health experts believe that singing can help those living with lung conditions to improve their quality of life, increase their confidence and reduce stress. Many people living with chronic respiratory conditions experience breathlessness that can be both life limiting and distressing.
A consensus group – including respiratory physicians, physiotherapists, nurses, health psychologists and music therapists – has just published a review article in partnership with The Primary Care Respiratory Society UK. Entitled ‘Singing for Lung Health (SLH) Systematic Review and Consensus Statement’, this article states that singing enables those with lung conditions to develop deeper and more controlled breathing, increase lung capacity and strengthen the voice. Those with an obstructive airways disease often needs to take constant ‘top-up’ breaths and as singing can help to strengthen the muscles of the chest, patients can develop greater confident and more control over their breathing.
Dr Nicolas S Hopkinson is Reader in Respiratory Medicine & Honorary Consultant Physician at The National Heart and Lung Institute of Imperial College and the Royal Brompton Hospital and was one of the contributors to the review article and. He says:
“Patients consistently report singing for breathing helps them cope with their lung condition better. This research reveals increasing evidence that singing regularly as part of a group has the potential to improve health-related quality of life, particularly related to physical health, and levels of anxiety without causing side effects”
‘The festive singing season is the perfect opportunity for those living with a lung condition to join a group and do some indoor carol singing. It’s a fun way to socialise and exercise your lungs. There’s been a huge increase in singing for lung health groups across the UK, thanks to organisations like the British Lung Foundation.”
The British Lung Foundation’s ‘Singing for Lung Health’ groups have leaders specifically trained in teaching singing to those with breathing difficulties. These classes not only help singers with lung problems to gain greater control over their breathing, they are also a great fun social activity too.
A recent poll of British Lung Foundation singing leaders named the following Christmas carols as their top choices for improving lung health:
- Silent Night
- Winter Wonderland
- White Christmas
- When a Child is Born
- Let it Snow
For further information on the British Lung Foundation’s singing for lung health groups, visit: www.blf.org.uk/singing or contact them on their Helpline on 03000 030 555, Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm.