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How Regular Singing or Blowing to Play an Instrument Are Cross Training for Your Whole Fitness Experience

Likely you’ve heard about the healthy hearts of professional opera singers. I don’t think you have to be a musician on that level to benefit from aerobic musicianship. In fact, you don’t even have to be a good singer. There are a few ways that this sort of activity contributes to your overall fitness, and improves your abilities in things like running and swimming.

I have played the flute for years, and performed now and then.  I have also taken voice lessons and sung before the occasional audience of hundreds.  But, I spend most of my time singing or fluting in more private settings.  The neighbors may not think it’s so private, but if they can’t bear up during one of my random concerts in the backyard, there are ear plugs.  :-D

You might think that I would have developed supercilious (I just really wanted to use that word!) standards as a result of the musical training, but you would be wrong.  I have instead developed the strong conviction that everyone should sing more!  I’m sure you can find someplace where you are comfortable belting it out or advancing your instrument playing skills.  There will be benefits (I will from this point just say “sing” and you can apply it to blowing to play an instrument as well):

  1. The more you sing, the deeper you breath.  This opens your lungs to greater capacity, increasing your aerobic ability even though you are in a relatively relaxed physical state.
  2. Singing requires phrasing.  Even if you are not thinking about it, you will get better at this.  If you think about it just a little, you will notice you can control your breathing for longer time segments.  This is not the same as holding your breath, which is counterproductive to lung function.  As you try to sing for longer phrases, you will become aware that you can adjust your breathing more while exercising, instead of being held captive by it.
  3. Singing reduces stress.  This is good for those of us with hyperactive adrenaline production.  It helps me to start races at more reasonable paces, which makes it more fun.  If I am relaxed, I am less likely to injure myself due to tight muscles or poor decisions.
  4. Singing is also apparently good for those who are predisposed to exercise induced asthma, as one of my daughters is.  She will often spend about a half an hour singing and has found this to reduce the incidence of asthma.
  5. Singing out helps workout unnecessary inhibitions.  Embarrassment about singing ability should not hold anyone back.  Just have fun and express yourself.  If you can let go and sing with gusto, you will get more at ease about exercise efforts in front of people, whether it be for a race or just the daily routine.

Just like there are a range of abilities in any activity, so it is with singing.  If only the first place runner ran, how could there be a race?  If only the very best singers sang, the chorus would be thin.  Most importantly, the joy wouldn’t be shared the same way.  Listening or watching may have it’s moments, but there is nothing like doing things together.  And if you don’t sing your song, who will?

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