As it’s the new year and many of us are getting back to the gym, it’s time for us to give you a bit of extra motivation. Exercise is more than about getting beach body ready, regular cardio workouts can improve your singing ability.
Cardio is short for cardiovascular, and refers to any activity that gets the heart rate up and keeps it there, forcing us to to take bigger breaths. By training our breathing, we are able to sing with more power and stamina, two hugely important components of a singer.
Often, people use the phrase “lung capacity” when they talk about the benefits of cardio exercise. Now, this doesn’t mean the physical space of our lungs gets bigger. Most of us don’t take strong enough breathes in daily life, meaning we only half fill our lungs. This is all well and good for regular activities but breathing is fundamental to singing; it’s the fuel to the whole system. Increasing your lung capacity means building the muscles associated with breathing, enabling us to take deeper and fuller breath, which in turn give us more air.
This effect is so natural, it’s easy to overlook it until the next time you need to push yourself.
Building a strong cardio system also relieves pressure on the other parts of your body that you use to sing. The muscles in your neck and your vocal cords are small and cannot generate substantial power on their own for long without injury. Building that cardio base will see you through years of singing.
So what kind of exercise qualifies as cardio? What are the best cardio workouts? Running, swimming and cycling are by far the most popular cardio activities, and they’re all relevantly cheap to get onboard with.
Running is the cheapest and easiest to start but don’t think you have to start by doing full-sprints or High Intensity Interval Training from the get-go. If you have neglected your cardio for a while, try going out on a long walk first. Once that becomes easier, try walking faster, then jogging, then finally running. Only you know how hard you can push yourself so listen to your body, just as you would while singing.
Swimming is great if you feel like your joints wont handle the impact of running too well. Obviously in Thanet, we’re very lucky to have the sea nearby, and groups like Walpole Bay Swimmers are great fun to get involved with (and they’re just down the hill from where we practice). Although, if the sea is a little too cold this time of year for you, there’s always the public swimming pools in Margate and Ramsgate.
If you can’t fit extra cardio into your lifestyle, why not look for extra chances to fit it in daily life? Taking the steps instead of the lift, walking the long way home or getting off the bus a stop early are all great ways to get those extra steps in, and that heart-rate up.
If you already get your cardio in but you’re not seeing results, try throwing in some breath exercises while you work out.
So how about it? Have we convinced you to stick to the gym or to get in an extra session?