Singing improves breathing for Lambeth and Southwark residents

Singing improves breathing for Lambeth and Southwark residents

Singing improves the quality of life for people living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) according to a report launched today by the Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health, who we have supported with a grant of £200,000.

There are currently around 1.2 million people in the UK living with COPD, a progressive lung disease that increases breathlessness and long-term inflammation of the airways. 

The new report, which supports the idea of 'singing on prescription', involved two cohorts, assessed in September 2015 and January 2016, including a total of 60 participants with breathing difficulties in Lambeth and Southwark. Participants reported a significant improvement to their symptoms, and ‘fewer bad days’ and ‘more good days’.

According to the report findings, group singing benefits people with chronic respiratory disease by helping to modify breathing patterns, reduce breathlessness and improve quality of life and social and psychological wellbeing. This type of creative approach may also reduce demand for more costly health interventions, such as hospital admissions.

“An hour’s continuous exercise here and my lungs feel like they have had a better work out than an hour in the gym. I was quite surprised coming here to find out how much of an exercise it was for my lungs.”

Les, 67, a participant from the Rotherhithe group in Southwark

The launch of the study took place at the Royal Festival Hall as part of the Southbank Centre’s Chorus’ Festival in 2015 and COPD singing groups from around the country were invited to sing and find out more about the project.

“People with COPD find it difficult to breathe, and are also vulnerable to social isolation, anxiety and depression. Regular group singing can help people to focus on their breathing in a positive way, improving management of breathing difficulties. More and more singing for breathing groups are starting, and the NHS needs to seriously consider the idea of ‘singing on prescription’.”

Prof. Stephen Clift, Director, the Sidney De Haan Research Centre


"We're delighted to have funded the Lambeth and Southwark Singing and COPD Project, which is being launched at the Southbank Centre today. Particularly impressive are the wide-ranging physical, psychological and social benefits that have been achieved over the life of the project. Together these benefits have significantly improved the wellbeing of participants in our local boroughs."

Nicola Crane, our Programme Director

The Singing for Better Breathing: Findings of the Lambeth and Southwark Signing and COPD Project was supported by ourselves and the NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups for Southwark and Lambeth.

Findings from the Lambeth and Southwark Singing and COPD Project