How Singing Can Improve Your Health
You should sing every day! “I can’t sing,” is not an acceptable excuse. Nandhu Radhakrishnan, Assistant Professor of Communication and Science Disorders at Columbia University of Missouri-Columbia assures us that people who say they cannot sing would be more truthful if they say they do not sing. Here are the known health benefits of singing:
- Improves Blood Circulation
- Emotional Release and Wellness
- Enhances Memory
- Encourages Spirituality
- Builds Social Connections
Any voice can improve with practice and willingness; but with or without a trained voice, singing can improve you physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually and socially.
The personal benefits of your singing have nothing to do with the quality of your voice. Even with a croaky voice, your singing can improve certain factors of your life beyond the health of people who have good voices but do not sing.
Following are five of several aspects in which health improvement by singing becomes obvious.
1. Improves Blood Circulation
Here are the findings of health professionals concerning various aspects of physical health which can improve with singing. Among other benefits, all three quotes mention a positive effect on the blood:
- Professor Graham Welch, Chair of Music Education at the University of London studied the medical aspects of singing for 30 years. He finds that “Singing has physical benefits because it is an aerobic activity that increases oxygenation in the blood stream and exercises major muscle groups in the body even when sitting.”
- Professor Don Stewart, head of public health at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia adds that “the act of singing had been proven to have physiological benefits, stimulating circulation, improving lung function.”
- Scientists at the University of Frankfurt in Germany tested the blood of choir professionals before and after rehearsal. They reported that “concentrations of immunoglobin A - proteins in the immune system which function as antibodies - and hydrocortisone, an anti-stress hormone, increased significantly during the rehearsal.”
After you learn that singing can improve blood circulation, muscle exercise, lung function, and the immune system, do you still care what your voice sounds like?
2. Emotional Release and Wellness
Those who are blessed with beautiful voices may enjoy fame and fortune, yet they would admit that the joy of singing is higher on their list of blessings than any material gain they get from it.
Through the breathing associated with singing, the increase of oxygen causes the release of endorphins that boost mood. Usually, the body relaxes and the mind shuts out anxieties and frustrations. This emotional benefit also affects the listener; some people admit that they forget their troubles when they listen to a good song.
All song lyrics are not happy, and singing the blues can help the singer remember personal misfortunes. Even then, singing can be helpful.
Rob Smith, lecturer in Music Ministry at Sydney Missionary and Bible College in Sydney, Australia, states that “. . . singing can function as a very effective means of gently releasing suppressed emotions and of helping people to process the truth and reality behind their inner pain.”
Smith's advice is to sing truth; singing truth principles helps singers bridge the gap between what they experience and what they believe. It improves their outlook and their ability to rebound.
3. Enhances Memory
Singing is among the best memory tools. Most children learn the alphabet through singing. Adults remember the facts they learned in kindergarten tunes. Advertisers make silly ditties which pop up in your head without your conscious effort.
You are more likely to remember the words of a song that was rendered, than the actual words of a sentence the preacher said in church last weekend.
If you practice singing important names and dates in a tune you know or create for the specific purpose, your improved memory may surprise you.
Singing is a workout for the brain when you are learning new lyrics or new tunes. It empowers concentration and attention. Finally, it stimulates memory when it is time to sing without the printed words before you. In fact, singing is a good exercise to put on your daily list of memory boosters.
A Handy Prayer Song on YouTube
4. Encourages Spirituality
If you ever lack the energy to begin your devotional or motivational exercise at the start of the day, here too, singing is your most effective help.
Have an inspirational song on YouTube bookmarked, or keep a favorite CD handy nearby for such an occasion. At such times, a soothing instrumental may not produce the effect you want; you need song lyrics to activate your thoughts even if you only listen. Eventually, it becomes easy to sing along.
During the day, singing keeps your mind lifted above the mundane drudgeries of life. Some people develop the habit of keeping a song in their hearts, and will occasionally burst into song when the opportunity arises. Such people are able to keep their cool under pressure, to concentrate on purpose instead of problems.
Prayer songs are popular both at the beginning and the end of the day. They help you connect and communicate with God. At any time of day, they help you maintain that connection.
5. Builds Social Connections
Professor Stewart’s study also revealed that although people who join singing groups are usually less healthy than the average person, they are happier and lead a better quality of life. This is due to the social dynamics of group singing.
The professor states, “It's very much about the act of togetherness, the importance of being involved with others gives people this strong sense of connectedness and wellbeing we think."
Singing for the Brain also confirms the benefits of group singing. This is a weekly activity provided by the Alzheimer’s Association in the United Kingdom for patients and caregivers. At first, some patients seem uninterested, but after sharing in the singing exercises, communication with group members improves. They form friendships. Even their conversation at home improves and they begin to look forward to the group activity.
The people who benefit most from choral singing are women, older people, those who suffer from anxiety, and those who are bereaved.
The conclusion of all the research is that singing helps to improve quality of life. Singing is not everybody's talent to develop, but it is a tool everybody has for personal use. You will become a lasting, positive influence on children and grandchildren if you let them hear you sing.
1. Curiosity from Discovery: Emotions, What good does singing do for us besides carrying a nice tune? Human: the Science of Singing (visited 04/28/2014)
2. Heart Research: Sing for Your Heart (visited 04/28/2014)
3. McLean, Tamara: The Sydney Morning Herald, Choral singing makes you happy: survey (July 10, 2008)
4. ABC News Australia: Scientists say singing boosts immune system (January 19, 2004)
5. Smith, Rob: The Gospel Coalition, Themelios Volume 37, Issue 3, Music, Singing, and Emotions: Exploring the Connections,(November 2012)
6. McLean, Tamara: The Sydney Morning Herald, Choral singing makes you happy: survey (July 10, 2008)
© 2014 Dora Weithers