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October 18, 2013

University studying health of seniors in choirs

San Francisco Chronicle:

It seems true that singing in a choir can be therapeutic, especially for older adults, but a groundbreaking clinical trial is under way in San Francisco to see whether science agrees. Over the next five years, researchers at UCSF will create a dozen senior choirs throughout the city to compare the physical strength, balance, memory and moods of singers versus non-singers.

Backed by a $1.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, the new Community of Voices/Comunidad de Voces choirs will be offered to 400 adults older than 60, who agree to wear Bluetooth-enabled belts that measure their balance, participate in memory tests and coordination tests and answer questionnaires about their mental well-being.

Singers will meet for 90-minute rehearsals each week for a year, be paid $105 for completing three study interviews, and will be invited to perform concerts for the public. Singers will be measured against other seniors who have been asked to wait six months before starting their choir.

"In our culture, we really focus on physical activity as a way to promote health, but a lifelong hobby in the creative arts can also promote overall health, and singing is the most popular group activity in the U.S.," said lead researcher Dr. Julene Johnson, a cognitive neuroscientist and professor at the UCSF School of Nursing's Institute for Health & Aging.

Read more.

Posted by acapnews at October 18, 2013 12:00 AM