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Study focuses on singing to improve health, delay aging

A new UC San Francisco study aims to find out if singing can actually lead to a longer, healthier life.
October 8, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Research over the years has shown singing can do wonders for your health. Now a new University of California study finds singing as part of a group, or choir, can make you feel and act younger.

Singing in a choir can raise your spirits.

"It gives you pleasure to know that you've been one little voice in that whole production," said choir singer Nadine Davenport Jones.

Now a new study underway at the University of California-San Francisco aims to find out if singing can actually lead to a longer, healthier life.

Researchers have started a dozen new choirs in senior centers across the city. Before volunteers start singing, they're tested for things like balance and leg strength, and will be retested at the end of the study.

"Older adults who sing in a choir actually fall less and could potentially have stronger lower body strength," said Julene Johnson, UCSF Institute for Health and Aging.

Exercising the vocal chords can give the lungs a workout too.

"Up to maybe 30 percent of older adults complain of having shortness of breath, so it is possible that singing in a choir can help work the respiratory system and help improve breathing," said Johnson.

Previous research found singing in a choir may also promote mental and emotional well-being and social connections, but a recent study out of Sweden also reveals being in a choir may help your heart as well.

Swedish scientists say the heart rates of singers slowed down as they began to sing and their heartbeats gradually synchronized, eventually beating as one.

Findings from the UCSF study won't come out until 2017.

"People feel music and it is like a healing process. You just feel good," said choir member Haines Morgan.

A 2006 study found people 65 and older who participated in weekly community arts programs, including choir, had fewer trips to the doctor, used fewer medications, fell less and expressed less loneliness.


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