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Rx: Belt One Out!

Publication: Bottom Line Publications

Author / Writer: Rebecca Shannonhouse

 

Can’t carry a tune? It doesn’t really matter. Go ahead and sing or hum something anyway. It could make you healthier—and perhaps even prolong your life. New finding: Researchers who looked at members (average age 80) of a choral group found that they took fewer medications, had less depression and made fewer doctor visits than a comparison group of nonsingers. What’s going on? Because singing stimulates multiple parts of the brain and can improve lung function, it can help.

Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: Singing helps strengthen chest muscles and increases peak respiratory flow rate, a measure of lung health.

Depression and agitation in Alzheimer’s patients: Both can be eased by singing and other forms of music therapy.

Infections: Regular singers have been shown to experience a temporary increase in disease-fighting antibodies. Unfortunately, many adults feel too self-conscious to sing, explains Barbara Reuer, PhD, a San Diego–based music therapist and researcher who has published extensively on music therapy and health.

To incorporate singing into your daily routine, start by humming your favorite tunes. Then, sing along with music from your iPod or the radio. (If you’re alone in the car, no one can hear you.)

Consider taking a few lessons from a voice coach. Even if you can’t carry a tune, this will teach you proper breathing techniques, improve your singing—and perhaps even better your health.  [ end ]

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