Can singing help patients with long Covid?

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A PROGRAMME that teaches people to sing and breathe to help combat the effects of long Covid has received funding.

This is one of the projects announced to receive funding as part of the University of St Andrews Community Fund.

St Andrews Voices, the people behind Scotland’s only festival of vocal and choral music, have adapted the British Heart Foundation’s Singing for Lung Health workshops to support those recovering from Covid-19.

They are teaching key skills around breathing to help in the fight against long Covid.

According to figures released by the Office for National Statistics, more than 1.1 million people in Britain are experiencing long Covid symptoms over a four-week period after contracting Covid-19.

The scale of those suffering from the condition and the range of associated symptoms make it difficult to support people recovering from it.

Medical professionals have struggled to find a route out of long Covid, but there’s now hope in the form of unexpected treatments, such as the St Andrews Voices Singing for Lung Health project.

Singing for Lung Health is a group-based art in health intervention with the goal of improving the quality of life of people with a chronic lung condition.

With a proven track record in supporting people with chronic lung conditions, the St Andrews Voices project will build on the existing breathing and wellbeing programme.

They will adapt specifically for people recovering from Covid-19 and experiencing long Covid symptoms such as breathlessness and associated anxiety.

Photo by Victor Garcia on Unsplash. The St Andrews Voices project is small but the possibilities to help those suffering from long Covid are widespread.

It will be supported by the University’s Community Fund with a donation of £3000 to the project.

The workshops will be provided by British Lung Foundation trained practitioners and delivered entirely online.

It will be focussing on the retraining of breathing through singing.

By focussing on singing and breathing control rather than their respiratory limitations, Singing for Lung Health will allow participants to not only manage their breathlessness but also help improve quality of life.

Research shows that projects such as Singing for Lung Health not only help to improve breathing control but can also provide other health benefits.

It has benefits such as improved posture, as well as overall feelings of increased wellbeing by taking part in a meaningful social and physical group activity.

Lungs - Health News Scotland
Photo by Robina Weermeijer on Unsplash. Singing can have many health benefits as well as helping people breathe better.

St Andrews Voices Festival Director and Project Lead, Amanda MacLeod, said: “Our unique workshops will empower and better equip participants to deal with the breathlessness and anxiety associated with long Covid.

“The evidenced benefits of Singing for Lung Health and wellbeing not only include improved breathing control but also allow those suffering from long Covid a focussed wellbeing intervention that distracts from breathlessness and provides much needed social participation, reducing feelings of isolation that many have suffered during the pandemic.”

Workshops will initially be offered entirely online over a 12-week period.

Led by a Singing for Lung Health leader and supported by a respiratory medical officer, sessions will offer breathing exercises and suitable songs to aid the recovery.

The team has consulted with Senior Lecturers from the University of St Andrews School of Medicine, local respiratory consultants and clinicians within the NHS in Dundee and Fife.

University of St Andrews Principal, Professor Sally Mapstone, said: “The University recognises that key to recovery and the very fabric of life in communities affected by the pandemic are the many small voluntary bodies that are responding to the needs of residents, with a will and bravery which must be commended.

“The University of St Andrews Community Fund was conceived before the Covid-19 crisis but quickly adapted to assist those who support the very fabric of our society at its most vulnerable time.”