“The strengthening of the esophagus is extremely important,” says Sandy Kerr, a voice aerobics instructor with Lee Memorial Health System.
Using breath and movement, voice aerobics is a class aimed to improve breathing, speaking and swallowing.
“Most people breathe shallow in your chest. You’re not breathing deeply into the esophagus, you’re not breathing deeply into your abdominal core and filling your body with air,” says Kerr.
Voice aerobics combines voice therapy with exercise. Lee Center for Rehabilitation and Wellness offers the class for people with Parkinson’s, neurological conditions or anyone struggling to catch their breath.
Gerry McQuagge hopes it will give her an added oomph.
“I have breathing problems and my chest feels very heavy.”
The program works people up slowly, starting with simple sounds and small movements.
“Then it’s gradually working into using movement with the proper breathing. Typically you would start changing your breathing habit, if you started to move your arms and things around,” says Kerr.
Just like those in our arms and legs, respiratory muscles can weaken over time. Emerging research shows fine tuning them can improve and preserve motor, speech and swallowing functions.
“I do get winded and I just want to be a little bit stronger. We’ll see,” says Gerry.
With a bit of training under their belt the class could be singing the praises of voice aerobics.