The Ideal Work Out for a Singer?

Doctor with singing ensemble

Dear Dr. Jahn,

I’m getting more into singing (my band is starting to get several gigs a week) and I am thinking I should “up” my fitness a bit – the thing is, I have a group of friends who are “fitness freaks” and each into something different – one swears by pilates another weightlifting, another running – etc.! I figure it doesn’t really matter what it is – but you work with singers all the time – what is your recommendation?! 


Dear Eric:

Your question is deceptively simple, and is asking for a long reply, but I will try to answer it in kind.

Really, any physical exercise that you enjoy and can commit to doing regularly should serve your purposes. The key is the commitment, mentally and schedule-wise. It can not be something you do “in your spare time”, but needs to be high priority. This way you will experience the cumulative benefits, both to your body, your singing, and your psychological health. More specifically, your exercise should address three areas: cardiovascular health, muscle toning, and flexibility. You can attain all three by one exercise, such as swimming, or by a combination of methods, such as jogging, weights and stretching.

How you succeed, however, will again depend on your sticking to it. This is why your regimen should consists of things you like to do – you won’t persist if it’s a chore!

Regular exercise (ideally five times a week for an hour) that raises your heart rate into your optimal zone, which is (220 – your age) x 80%, should be your goal, followed by toning (weights, machines, sit-ups, curls, etc.) and stretching. You’ll feel better, metabolize more effectively, and be a happier singer!

-Anthony F. Jahn, MD, FACS, FRCS(C)

This discussion is for general information and not to be construed as specific medical advice that you should obtain from your own physician.

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