Why should I exercise and eat a healthy diet?
Health matters. As a singer, the body IS the instrument. If the muscles are weak, if energy is low, then the voice doesn’t have a chance.
Increasingly, I have found myself telling my students that taking the time to exercise is as important as practice time. In fact, I’ve told them that if they only have 10 minutes a day, they should spend that time working out rather than practicing.
Take time for cardio. Work the abs. Even more, work the BACK strength. Especially in singing, the abs should be strong, but if the back muscles are weak, the abs collapse from lack of resistance. Strong leg muscles support the torso, creating a balanced body. A balanced body frees up the abdominal muscles to support the breath. Strong intercostal and oblique rib muscles, created through twisting exercises, allow for increased control of the descent of the diaphragm.
I have heard many excuses (including from myself):
- “I’m too tired to exercise.” My response: Take 30 minutes of sleep time and exercise. You’ll have more energy than if you sleep an extra hour.
- “I can’t do the workout I want.” My response: Start slow. The Wii Fit Plus is a GREAT place to begin. Try an easy yoga workout for stability and stretching. Then, as you get stronger, continue to challenge yourself in your workout. Don’t get complacent.
- “I don’t have the time.” My response: Take the time. If you truly want to be a singer, you need to exercise and have a strong body. How much TV do you watch? Do you get up & move around during the commercials? How much time do you spend on Facebook? Take 20-30 minutes DAILY for cardio. Yes, it’ll come from somewhere else, but how much do you want it?
- “Exercise doesn’t really make a difference.” My response: Yes. It does. Your body is your instrument. EVERYTHING you do to your body, you do to your voice. Singers are athletes as much as those who participate in sports. A singer must be able to control the muscles in the body in the same way an elite athlete can – the smallest bit counts.
Second, what you EAT matters. The days of “the fat lady” singers have come to an end. The best singers in the business exercise on a daily basis. Because we use our epigastric muscles so much in breath support, singers are more likely to have acid reflux caused by weakening of the esophageal sphincter (we’re pressing on it every time we engage our support muscles). Acid reflux is a contributing factor in MANY voice disorders. Laryngeal Pharyngeal Reflux Disease (LPRD) frequently has NO felt symptoms and is only diagnosable via videostroboscopy. Yet, LPRD can take out your range and drastically decrease your vocal stamina, while increasing your susceptibility to vocal disorders. The timing of your food, what kinds of food, and the amount of food can affect reflux. Also, those who carry more weight have more “stuff” pressing on the esophageal sphincter, increasing the probability of reflux.
GET HEALTHY. I have previously written on my journey with vocal disorders. I am now 21.8 pounds lighter, exercising DAILY (30+ minutes) and I am singing better than I have in years. My voice is 100% reliable, even when I’ve had too little sleep, and I am able to warm up very quickly. I am doing my best to practice what I preach and be an example for my students.
Here is my challenge: 30-days, 900 minutes of exercise. That’s 30 minutes a day. Who’s up for it?