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December 5, 2013, last updated December 2, 2014
By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

[Health and fitness articles are reviewed by our team of
Doctors and
Registered Nurses, Certified fitness trainers and other members of our
Editorial Board.]

If you want to feel healthier and happier, and even live
longer, open your mouth and sing. Warbling your way
through an aria or signing along with the contestants on
American Idol could boost your immune system, increase
your quality of life, and even stop your snoring, experts

Whether you’re a karaoke king or queen, you love to belt
out the ballads in the shower or you make singing your
living, you know how good you feel after hitting those
notes. If you have ever sung in a choir, these effects seem
to be intensified. But the benefits of singing are not limited
to making you feel good. Singing in a choir and singing to
yourself is known to promote physical wellbeing, too. But

Why is Singing Good for Your Health?

Scientists and researchers have spent years studying the
psychological, physical and developmental aspects of
singing a simple song.

Professor Graham Welch at the University of London,
England says singing has psychological and physical
benefits – physical because singing is actually an aerobic
activity, and all aerobic activity increases oxygen levels in
the blood and strengthens muscles. And singing benefits
you psychologically because you enjoy reduced stress
levels, increased self-esteem, and a rise in confidence. And
while singing to yourself is good, singing with others is
better. Here you get the benefits of increased sense of
community, shared achievement, and a sense of belonging.
Plus, your brain gets a workout through learning songs
from memory and concentrating on notes.

Who’s Singing Now?

With all these benefits from raising your voice in song, it’s
little wonder that 23.5 million Americans sing with a choir
or group on a weekly basis, according to a 2003 study
from Chorus America – more Americans sing than take part
in any other form of public artistic expression. There are
more than 3,000 choirs listed in the UK and many more that
are operating on a casual basis.

For societies, singing in groups promotes social cohesion, a
sense of belonging, and togetherness. In fact, the EU has
identified social loneliness--what they call social exclusion --
as a problem that affects the societies of Europe. One study
completed in 2014 on the subject estimated that about 120
million people in the EU --- 27% of all children and 20% of
all adults in the EU --- suffer from social isolation. This
study,  led by Dr. Graham Welch of the International Music
Education Research Centre in London, proposed that group
singing may in fact be just the remedy to fix that.

What exactly are the benefits of singing that cause millions
to open up with song on a regular basis? How does singing
help your health? We looked at the recent scientific
evidence to discover what it really means to sing for your

Top 7 Health Benefits of Singing

1.        Sing Your Heart Out – Singing is Medicine for the

Singing gives you a good aerobic workout which is also
good for your heart. But researchers have discovered more
specific reasons why song helps prevent heart attacks and
heart disease.

When you sing you need to breathe more slowly and
evenly, which affects the activity of your heart, according
to a 2013 study from the University of Gothenburg,
Sweden. Slow-paced breathing and lower breathing rates
benefit cardiovascular function, the researchers say.

They looked at a group of 18-year-olds that either hummed
a single note, breathing when needed, sang a hymn using
free breathing, or sang a slow mantra with a guided, slow
breathing pattern. Simple song structures such as humming
or mantra-chanting had a particularly strong impact on the
heart rate, according to the study, and have the potential
to reduce the risk of heart disease.

The heart-healthy benefits don’t end here.  The researchers
found the heart rates of the singers actually synchronized
when they sang in a choir, which leads researchers to draw
interesting, though preliminary, conclusions about how
heart problems can be lessened in a group setting.

Singing can
reduce blood pressure – potentially important
for a healthy heart -  according to a 2011 study from
Harvard Medical School in Boston. Doctors discovered that
a 76-year-old woman with severe preoperative
hypertension experienced a dramatic drop in blood
pressure when she sang religious songs.

Singing Improves Your Quality of Life

Because singing gives you a mini-workout you not only
benefit from heart-healthy activity but the rush of
endorphins that exercise produces.

These feel-good hormones flood your body when you raise
your voice in song. And with these endorphins come raised
levels of emotional well-being and improved quality of life,
according to a 2012 study by cancer charity Tenovus and
Cardiff University, both based in Wales, UK.

The researchers looked at how singing improves quality of
life factors for cancer survivors and carers. Members of a
choir filled out questionnaires and those taking part in
regular singing sessions reported benefits from increased
vitality to reduced anxiety and depression.

Singing Helps You Live Longer

Could singing, aside from making you feel better, actually
help you live longer? This is the conclusion from a joint
study by Harvard and Yale Universities in 2008 that showed
choral singing raised the life expectancy of the inhabitants
of New Haven, Connecticut. The scientists believed that
because singing benefits the heart and the mind, this
translated into improved longevity.

Singing Boosts Your Immune System

Put down the multivitamins – singing could be the only
immune-booster you need.

A 2001 study from the University of California
demonstrated that choristers had significantly increased
levels of immune-boosting proteins before a performance
and even greater levels after singing. In addition, a 2004
study from Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University Frankfurt
am Main, Frankfurt, Germany discovered that choir singing
positively influences immune function in members of a
mixed amateur choir. (Read more about natural remedies
that help boost your immune system.)

Sing to Build Your Lung Capacity

By singing you can train your lungs to breathe better,
increasing physical fitness as well as helping your health if
you suffer from lung conditions or diseases.

For example, a 2012 study by Cardiff University, UK found
that lung cancer patients who sang in a choir had a greater
lung capacity than those who didn’t.

And a 2009 study from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil
looked at the effect of weekly singing classes on people
with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – researchers
found weekly singing improved both lung function and
quality of life.

Can Singing Reduce Snoring?

It seems like slipping into song on a regular basis can also
benefit you in bed – we’re talking snoring, and a 2013
study from Exeter University and the Royal Devon and
Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, UK showed joining a choir or
having singing lessons helps reduce snoring. The benefits
come from singing exercises, which strengthen throat
muscles to alleviate symptoms of
sleep apnea including
snoring. (Read more about
natural remedies for snoring.)

Singing Benefits Sufferers of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

According to a Swedish 2010 study by Grape C, Wikström
BM, Ekman R, Hasson D, and Theorell T., choir singing
elevates levels of oxytocin – low levels of oxytocin are
associated with
irritable bowel syndrome, a gastrointestinal
condition that is also linked to psychological factors.

Participants in the study attended a choir meeting or a
discussion group once a week for a year. Those singing
regularly benefited from the elevated oxytocin levels.

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Singing in choirs can extend your life,
studies show.