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January 3, 2008

No sweat – sing yourself to better health

Western News (Canada):

A New Year’s resolution to sing may provide health benefits similar to those accredited to eating well and working out.

In addition to joining a health club, you might consider joining a choir – no fuss, no fees, no sweat. That’s the advice from Victoria Meredith, choral conductor and professor at the Don Wright Faculty of Music at The University of Western Ontario, whose research examines the benefits of singing, particularly as you age.

“Choral singing can keep you younger and healthier for longer,” says Meredith. “The benefits are boosted by singing in a choir because it involves both physical and social activity. Studies have shown that people who sing regularly have fewer trips to the doctor, fewer falls, less medication and are less depressed.”

Meredith says some of the benefits come from a sense of mastering an art, social engagement and the sustained effects of a long-lasting group effort. Creative and intellectually stimulating activities also improve brain function and compensate for the loss of brain cells with age.

Some researchers have also discovered that a disease-fighting protein (sIg A) increases 150 per cent during rehearsals and 240 per cent during performances. Meredith uses adult choirs at Western as her live lab for research.

“Increased respiratory function, improved overall health, a heightened immune system, improved brain function have all been documented as benefits from choral singing,” says Meredith. “Many people experience the contribution that choral singing makes to their lives simply as an increase of joy and overall well-being.”

Meredith is the author and editor of many articles about choral music and is an experienced conductor and professor at Western where her choirs have received numerous national awards. Her experience means she is often sought after as a clinician and guest conductor. Meredith is also the founder of the innovative choralconnections Adult Choir Program and author of Sing Better As You Age.

Posted by acapnews at January 3, 2008 9:21 PM

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