We know the importance of keeping our bodies fit as we grow older, but it turns out our bodies aren’t the only things that need exercise to combat the natural effects of aging; our voices can also benefit from a regular workout. Singing classes and voice lessons are the latest trend for people over the age of 62. Mr. Rogers of sweater-wearing fame used to say when our bodies grow, everything grows together. Well the same thing happens when our bodies begin to age. Everything gets a little less flexible, including our larynx.
Why Voices Fade
Older voices often sound weak or breathy and may lose tonal range or quality. Presbylaryngis, a condition commonly known as “aging of the larynx,” can be to blame, as can other diseases, smoking and changes in the way people use their voices. Untreated, vocal aging can lead to speech disorders that can complicate the ability to communicate. Speech disorders affect an estimated 30% of older adults, a figure that is expected to double over the next 20 years as the baby boomer generation (people born between 1946 and 1964) reach their 60s.
Keeping Your Voice Sharp
To combat aging voices, many are signing up for vocal lessons and singing classes and joining singing groups. Vocal exercises concentrate on beefing up the three body systems used to create speech:
- The respiratory system, which provides the air flow necessary to produce sound
- The vocal chords whose opening and closing creates sound
- The resonance system (tongue, lips, teeth, throat) that articulate and amplify sound
So the next time a great song comes on the radio, sing along. It’s good exercise! And for more ways to stay happy and healthy, download 11 Ways to Age Successfully at Home.