STAYING FIT AND HEALTHY DURING THE HOLIDAYS

With the holidays coming up, the highlight for many people during this season is gathering with family and friends and enjoying favorite holiday treats. Here are some tips that will help you enjoy your holidays to the fullest while not increasing your waistline.

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MAKING AND KEEPING NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS

Only 8 percent of individuals achieved their resolutions in 2016, according to Statistic Brain. This is likely due to most people having unrealistic expectations about the speed, ease and consequences of the resolutions they make. People attempting self-change rarely succeed the first time; most need five or six attempts, according to a paper published in American Psychologist by Janet Polivy and Peter Herman. The authors suggest false hope syndrome is the cause for failure.

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HEALTHY HOLIDAY OPTIONS

The holidays are a wonderful time to gather with family and friends to celebrate. These celebrations often consist of many delicious treats and hardy meals. You can still maintain a healthy diet with a little thought and planning in advance. Research from a recent Web-based survey found 18 percent of people feel they cannot eat healthily during the holidays because they don’t want to miss out on their favorite foods. You can still eat the foods you enjoy this season, just in moderation.

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when choosing their mates. This idea is supported by a study in the Journal of Medical Genetics, which linked mutations on chromosomes 4q22 and 8q13-21 to musical ability. Further studies have found these genes can influence perception, memory and even participation in music.


Canadian researchers observed the physiological shape on a person’s vocal tracts resulted in a more pleasing natural voice. There is also a genetic factor to singing.


“Different races and cultures actually have different sound,” Stoney said. This has to do with the shape and size of the vocal cords and the larynx. The shape of a person’s skull is also responsible for the shape and size of the pharynx and the nasal cavities, a person’s natural resonators. To further illustrate this point, 10 different guitars with the same exact string will all sound a little different because of the size and shape of the guitar.


There has been a lot of research on the connection between the voice and physical appearance. Scientists conclude the sound of a person’s voice is influenced not only by race and gender, but also by gender within a race.


In addition to physical appearance, DNA also plays a role, according to another study published in the Journal of Medical Genetics. The study found the ability to sing well was an even split between nature and nurture. Therefore, half of musical talent is genetic, from physical appearance (shape and size of the skull and nasal cavities), gender and DNA, and the other half is derived from training and developing the muscles associated with singing.

People used to believe the ability to sing was a gift someone was born with. This belief changed with the 1967 publication of the book “Singing, the Mechanism and the Technique” by vocal coach, opera singer and anatomist William Vennard. Vennard studied vocal anatomy and developed a technique to help a singer’s ability. He said singing is not a “natural” skill but an art. The vocal cords are muscles and practice makes them stronger.


The actual truth and science of singing is a more moderate middle from the two extremes of innate ability and believing everyone can be trained to sing well. Singing is a beautiful yet complicated art form, and although we all possess the ability to sing at some level, the ability to sing well is based on both genetics and training.


“The voice can be trained in just about everyone,” Justin Stoney, founder of New York Vocal Coaching in New York City, told Medical Daily. “The evidence we have says if you really apply good technique, just about anyone can sing well.” According to Stoney, training your voice is similar to going to the gym and training any other muscle. Not everyone is going to be a top athlete, he said, but with the right coach and lots of practice, a person can see results.


If this is true, why isn’t everyone’s singing voice as beautiful as a

THE SCIENCE OF SINGING

ANGELA S. HOOVER

Angela is a staff writer for Health & Wellness magazine.

more articles by Angela s. hoover

pop star’s? Differences in a person’s physical make-up can account for differences in singing abilities. “Everyone is built differently,” Stoney said. “For some people, you can go, ‘Wow, they must really work out,’ and it turns out they never go to the gym. People have vocal athleticism in the same way.”


A study by the University of Montreal found that one-fifth of non-musicians couldn’t control their vocal muscles well and 35 percent couldn’t match their voice to a note being played. But both musicians and non-musicians were able to listen to and match a pitch using a slide instrument. Only 5 percent couldn’t tell the difference in pitch.


A study in the journal PlosOne looked into the brain activity of people listening to music. It showed music processing mainly uses the brain’s speech center, although it does rely on other parts of the brain. Human song vocalization is a big part of cultural-social development. Groups of humans sing together to bond, worship, celebrate and just to have fun.


Social groups that valued singing may have looked for musical characteristics