Dr. Ian Morrison, a senior research fellow and study author, said lung function improved dramatically, particularly after about five months, once people changed their breathing habits.
The study participants’ breathing was assessed at the beginning and end of the study using a spirometer, a device similar to a large Breathalyzer that measures lung function. Most of the patients improved on the spirometer, showing more lung capacity than they had at the beginning of the study.
Researchers speculate singing helps COPD patients inhale without anxiety, take deeper breaths and clear the lungs more efficiently than they would in taking shorter breaths. Singing enables patients to breathe in a deeper and more relaxed way.
Trisha Craig, 48, of Stratham, N.H., understands. The professional flutist’s lungs are significantly compromised due to scar tissue and allergy-induced asthma. “There is no question in my doctor’s mind that my being a professional flutist has saved my life,“ she said. "My lung capacity is very high and that has made it possible for me to function normally with such compromised lungs. Any wind instrument—including voice—would do the same.”