Singing for Breathing has been running since 2017 and started at the Royal London Hospital though it is open to anyone in East London. It was set up by Dr Anna Moore, medical lead for the group, and a respiratory doctor at Barts Health who recognised the need for a group that could offer therapeutic activity to help with breathlessness management, along with social support on a regular, long-term basis, free of cost for participants.
Singing for Breathing has a growing evidence base for the management of breathlessness, particularly in chronic lung disease, though our group is open to anyone living with breathlessness of any cause, and their carers. During the pandemic we moved the sessions to online. The group continues to meet online, and since September a monthly face to face sessions (with online access). Singing for Breathing has potential to significantly improve health equity.
Sessions are led by a British Lung Foundation (now known as Asthma + Lung UK) Trained Singing for Breathing facilitator. Sessions are one hour long. The first half of the session comprises facilitated exercises designed to train participants to breathe and make sounds using their diaphragm, developing a healthy, efficient breathing pattern. In the second half, the group goes on to sing songs with some preparation from the facilitator, or just spontaneously remembered songs. The group has several favourites that they like to sing together. Participants are encouraged to suggest songs and to teach them to the group and all are enthusiastic about learning music from different cultures as well as sharing their own. It’s important to note that it’s not about the singing – the group is not a choir – it’s about the breathing.
Our participants say:
"Singing for Breathing has become an integral part of my personal well-being routine."
"The sessions have really helped me focus better on my breathing."
“I can now walk without panting and along with a better diet and loss of weight have reduced my blood pressure to a point where my doctor has taken me off blood pressure medication"
"Since joining the group my asthma has finally come under control, I've stopped snoring and started dance classes, I'm working in the office more often, and I'm using my reliever inhaler less."
"I have kept up a fairly active social life by joining other groups, though singing was the first."
"My overall health has benefitted from being able to continue with the running programme."
We are keen to improve accessibility to Singing for Breathing so that anyone who lives with chronic breathlessness can benefit from the physical therapy, social support and joy that singing together brings.