A person need not be auditioning for the next season of “American Idol” or “The Voice” to start belting out a favorite tune. According to the singing advocacy group Chorus America, more than 32 million American adults sing regularly in groups nationwide. Millions of children enjoy music education as part of their school curriculum as well.
Although many people may restrict their singing to the shower or when no one is around to hear them, there are some surprising health benefits of singing frequently – and encouraging others to do so as well.
Singing and stress
Scientists say that singing can have a calming but energizing effect on people. Singing can help tame stress but also lift the spirits. Singing is a natural antidepressant. According to information published in Time magazine, singing may release endorphins associated with feelings of pleasure as well as stimulate the release of oxytocin, a hormone that is found to alleviate anxiety and stress. Prevention magazine notes that choir singers, who often report feeling happy and free of significant anxiety, may notice their moods improving when they start to sing.
Singing and immune system function
Singing can be a form of exercise that works the lungs and other parts of the body required to project one’s voice. Singing may lead to a stronger diaphragm and stimulation of circulation due to the greater amount of oxygen needed to carry a tune.
Research conducted at the University of Frankfurt found that professional choir members who had their blood tested before and after an hour-long rehearsal displayed a greater amount of antibodies called immunoglobulin A after the rehearsal. These increases were not found in the choir members who simply listened to music. In the study, titled “Singing modulates mood, stress, cortisol, cytokine and neuropeptide activity in cancer patients and carers,” researchers found higher levels of cytokines present in the blood of those who sung for an hour in a choir, and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Singing and snoring
Singing may help alleviate snoring. A 2008 study published in the journal Sleep Breath found that the prevalence and severity of snoring among semiprofessional singers and nonsingers indicated that singers scored lower on the snoring scale. Singing strengthens muscles in the airway that can help reduce snoring. Furthermore, the breathing required to sustain a song may help improve lung function and reduce symptoms of mild asthma.
Singing and memory
Singing may help improve mental alertness by delivering more oxygenated blood to the brain. For those with dementia, singing can improve concentration and memory recollection. The Alzheimer’s Society has a “Singing for the Brain” program to help people with dementia maintain their memories.
Singing and social connections
Singing with a group can reduce loneliness by bringing together like-minded people engaged in the same activity. Websites like ChoirPlace.com can help people find choir groups near them.
Singing can boost confidence, improve mental function, help with immune response, and be a form of cardiovascular exercise.