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8 AWESOME SCIENCE-BACKED BENEFITS OF SINGING

Feb 12, 2022

When I meet people, I often get a big reaction from them when I say I’m a singer. It starts with skepticism (“but you’re not famous.”), followed by excitement, (“that is so cool!”) curiosity (“tell me everything about how this works!”), and finally a confession (“I have always wanted to sing!!”) My reaction is usually, “what are you waiting for?!”

This article is for all you vocal lovers, whether you are already singing or harboring a secret desire to get started. It’s based by research at major universities such as The University of Oxford, and Melbourne, so, as you break into song today, bask in the glory of these 8 science-backed benefits of singing!

  1. Singing oxygenates your body and increases circulation

Whether you're on stage or around a campfire, the act of singing requires deep breathing. Research shows that the oxygen exchange that occurs when you sing increases circulation, causing more oxygenated blood to flow through your body and brain. This not only improves circulatory function, it also uplifts your mood, and makes you better able to cope with pain and grief.

  1. Singing releases feel good hormones

Singing releases endorphins and dopamine, your feel-good hormones, which give you a general feeling of euphoria associated with stress reduction. These are the “happy” hormones that help fight depression and anxiety and are valued and recommended by health professionals and physicians.

  1. Singing lowers the stress hormone, cortisol

Singing also lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which has long been implicated in belly fat and sleep disturbances. Reducing your cortisol levels is important for your mental and physical outlook, and it allows you to let go of accumulated muscle tension.

Given a choice, would you spend a day at the spa, or a day of singing, or both? How much do you feel you get from singing right now?

  1. Singing improves mental flexibility

Choral groups have been the subject of many studies, and it’s easy to understand why - they provide scientists with a readily available group of people who are engaged in the very same activity! Decades of research conducted on choral groups show that singing improves memory and mental flexibility and elevates singers’ moods for days after rehearsals!

What activities are you doing that raise your mood for days?

  1. Singing in groups causes singers hearts to synch!

I don’t know how big a win this is, but it’s really cool! A 2013 study in the Frontiers of Neuroscience found that singers heartbeats synch up as they sing together! It turns out that when we sing and breathe in unison, not only our voices align, but our heartbeats do too.

  1. Singing facilitates social bonding

It’s not your imagination. When you sing with other people, you really do bond with them more quickly. This phenomenon is so significant in singing that Dr. Eiluned Pearce of the University of Oxford calls it “The Ice Breaker Effect.”

  1. Singing is a whole brain activity

Excitingly, singing also lights up both hemispheres of the brain. Researchers at the University of Melbourne concluded that singing activates both sides of the brain including brain centers related to vision, movement, language, frontal lobes, organizational and planning systems, as well as emotional networks, and working memory! And the more you use these systems, the stronger those effects become.

Are you ready to sing for your brain health yet?

  1. Singing leads to a more organized brain

Scientists at The University of Melbourne wanted to see what would happen when a group of untrained singers completed an 8-week singing course. Using MRIs, they were able to see changes in the singers ‘brains resulting in more efficient, effective, and organized neural networks in just two months.’

So, the next time you want to burst out into song or invite some lovely people over to sing around the fire, know that what you’re doing doesn’t just feel good, it comes with science backed health benefits that you can feel great about!

Mari Rosa is an award-winning singer and voice coach, and the founder of Fireside Voice Academy, an 8 week program to improve voices and quality of life through singing.

Sources:
ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 November 2018. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181107111853.htm

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200518-why-singing-can-make-you-feel-better-in-lockdown

Björn Vickhoff, Helge Malmgren, Rickard Åström, Gunnar Nyberg, Seth-Reino Ekström, Mathias Engwall, Johan Snygg, Michael Nilsson, and Rebecka Jörnsten. Music determines heart rate variability of singers. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 2013 DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00334

Tom Shakespeare, Alice Whieldon. Sing Your Heart Out: community singing as part of mental health recovery. Medical Humanities, 2017; medhum-2017-011195 DOI:

The Ice-breaker Effect: Singing mediates fast social bonding, are published in journal Royal Society Open Science on 28 October: doi: 10.1098/rsos.150221.

https://www.verywellmind.com/singing-is-great-for-your-mental-health-even-if-you-can-t-carry-a-tune-5206803

Emmi Pentikäinen, Anni Pitkäniemi, Sini-Tuuli Siponkoski, Maarit Jansson, Jukka Louhivuori, Julene K. Johnson, Teemu Paajanen, Teppo Särkämö. Beneficial effects of choir singing on cognition and well-being of older adults: Evidence from a cross-sectional study. PLOS ONE, 2021; 16 (2): e0245666 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0245666

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4033614/

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160404221004.htm

https://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/podcasts/the-brain-benefits-of-music

 

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