Singing Increases Circulation
Choirs and singing programs are popping up all over retirement communities, Long Term Care, and other programs for older adults. There are many reasons for this, but one stands out. The health benefits of singing for an aging population are many, but few benefits are “sung” more praises than the impact it has on cardiovascular health.
Singing oxygenates us. It draws on us to take deeper breaths. It brings colour back into our cheeks and helps us shed the stress of the day.
I’ll never forget a moment I spent with a woman in her final days of cancer, visiting her at her bedside along with her siblings. A musical family, I joined them in singing some of their old favorite family songs gathered in that hospital room. At this stage of her cancer the patient was only semi-conscious and barely able to speak, but was breathing along to the songs and uttering some lines here and there. At one point, her sister-in-law said, “look at her fingernails! They’re not blue anymore! Look at her cheeks! They’ve got some colour!” Singing was a powerful medicine for her. It did not save her life, but it brought life back into her body for a brief while before she died.
When we sing, we breathe life back into us. Our cells benefit, our cardiovascular systems benefit. Our hearts benefit. It brings the colour back into our fingernails and cheeks. It brings the colour back into our lives.
Sarah Pearson is a music therapist working in oncology and palliative care in Kitchener, ON . She is the Program Development Coordinator for the Room 217 Foundation and Lead Facilitator of the Music Care Certificate Program.