A priority for singers is to stay healthy; free from common colds, viruses and other physical ailments. The best way to win this battle is to engage in regular cardiovascular exercise, maintain a regular sleep schedule of no less than six to eight hours every night, stay hydrated and eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits. Taking the proper precautions to avoid germ exposure such as washing hands regularly, avoid touching parts of the face and doing one’s best to avoid exposure to viruses is also important.
Physical fitness for singers extends beyond the regular concerns and benefits of being a healthy human being. Singing requires complete concentration and a heightened kinesthetic sense. As singers we must work to build an actively precise dialogue with our bodies so that we can train the muscles to learn the requests of the brain. For example; we learn how the breathing mechanism of the singing instrument works in voice lessons, but then we must consistently relate these ideas in an active way to the body. This requires physical flexibility and emotional endurance. This is how a singer practices singing technique. A true vocal athlete is one who is in tune with the body so that it responds to positive directions over time, incorporating a better balance of tension and freedom. This athleticism requires the coordination of the respiratory, skeletal, nervous, muscular, endocrine, nervous, and digestive systems. A singer who takes extra measures to nurture the body through regular stress relieving exercise will experience an easier time training these “conversations” between the systems, which will ultimately allow the singer to experience a coordinated vocal instrument.
Physical balance and alignment is at the core of all technical and expressive concepts a singer must develop. Singers must work to correct poor postural habits, which very often have roots in balance issues. Sometimes a singer will need to revisit an old physical injury in order to uncover how the body may have learned to compensate. This requires that a singer become objective and honest with him or herself, and must be open to vulnerability. Movement and body awareness methods such as the Feldenkrais method, Alexander technique and gentle yoga can be of help during this kind of work.
Emotional stress is known to cause detrimental effects on a singer. This kind of stress can cause certain muscles to work too hard, creating extra tensions that inhibit a free, vibrant sound. Emotional stress will also cause a block in the singer’s ability to express freely. A strained sound that produces less vibrancy translates to the audience as a lack of communication or a loss in textual and musical meaning. Cardiovascular exercise is known to alleviate emotional stress from the mind and body. Regular cardiovascular exercise should be considered a part of the singers scheduled practice time. All performers must work to deal with performance anxiety, which is basically a trigger causing the sympathetic nerves to ignite. This is known as the “fight or flight” impulse. Singers will benefit from regular exercise as well as built in down time in their schedule. This will help to balance the abundance of adrenaline a performer experiences.