Singing Christmas carols can actually improve your breathing

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It's the beginning of December which means it won't be long before the sound of carol singers and Christmas songs will be everywhere you go.

So if you suffer from lung problems, it turns out you should probably be joining in with them as it's actually good for your health - and not just because it'll make you feel all warm inside.

A consensus statement - agreed by a range of professionals including doctors, physiotherapists, nurses, psychologists and music therapists - follows a review of evidence that suggests singing helps people develop deeper and more controlled breathing.

carol singers (Tim Goode/EMPICS Sport/PA)
(Tim Goode/EMPICS Sport/PA)

Someone with a condition such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) - thought to affect three million people in the UK - will often need to take constant top-up breaths from their upper chest.

But singing can increase lung capacity and strengthen muscles, which can lead to more confident and controlled breathing, according to the British Lung Foundation, which runs "singing for lung health" groups around the country.

sheet music with lyrics (ca2hill/Thinkstock)
(ca2hill/Thinkstock)

There's even a poll by the British Lung Foundation (BLF) singing leaders who've identified the top five carols to sing for better lung health.

And they are ...

Silent Night
Winter Wonderland
White Christmas
When A Child Is Born
Let It Snow

The popular tunes have been chosen because they don't have too large of a range, they have long phrases to extend out breath and pauses which allow time for singers to inhale.

So clear that throat and get ready to annoy your neighbours with some wholesome caroling.