1. Singing strengthens your bodySinging is an aerobic activity and in many ways is a form of exercise. Like any other aerobic activity, it gets more oxygen into your bloodstream, improves your circulation, and releases endorphins that act as natural painkillers. By using the correct technique and posture when singing, you’re also strengthening muscles, including your diaphragm and your core muscles. So while you shouldn’t count on singing as a replacement for your calorie burner or weight lifting exercise, you can certainly get that “post-exercise high”, plus other tangible physical benefits after a good singing practice. As singing is a low-impact activity, the health benefits of singing daily are particularly good for the elderly and those recovering from injuries that prevent them from participating in more vigorous aerobic activities.
2. Singing reduces stressSinging is good for your mental health, too, and is great for stress management. Apart from releasing endorphins, which cause a natural, stress-reducing “high”, singing is also a mindful activity, similar to meditation, yoga or painting. It requires focus and concentration, which means focus and energy are taken away from stressors. An hour spent singing is an hour off from an overactive mind that’s constantly worried about work, relationships, money, or anything else that might be bothering you. In fact, a study from 2008 showed that because of singing effects on the brain, choral singers reported a higher than average level of overall satisfaction with life, even when facing more problems than the average population. At a time when the whole world is anxious and stressed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the psychological benefits of singing can really help.
3. Singing is good for the immune systemEver heard the saying that happy people are healthier? There is actually some scientific basis for this claim. Our bodies can heal better when we are not in a state of stress, so taking part in an activity that helps you destress is one of the best things you can do to boost your immune system. As a stress-reducing activity, singing has been shown to reduce the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, and increase levels of the Immunoglobin A, an antibody that plays an important role in the body’s immune function. Singing to relieve stress can be a fun, beneficial addition to your self-care routine now more than ever when everyone is worried about staying healthy and not catching COVID-19. It can be easily done at home and doesn’t require special equipment, or even a lot of space.
4. Singing teaches you correct postureAnyone can sing, but to improve your singing technique and the quality of sound your body produces, you need to develop the correct posture. Before correcting your posture, you have to become aware of your current state. Unless you do some sort of regular bodywork, you’re most likely not always aware of the way you carry your body. Try thinking about it now. Notice whether you’re slouching or sitting up straight. Are you holding any tension in any parts of your body? Most of us have tense shoulders, maybe a tense lower back. How is your chest feeling today? Your neck? Your jaw? By beginning to think about different parts of our bodies when we start to learn about singing techniques, we gain awareness that we can take into our daily lives. We can use it to align our body correctly to prevent pain, tension, and even injury.
5. Singing reduces muscle tensionApart from reducing tension caused by incorrect posture, singing also teaches you how to control your muscles. An awareness of the difference between tension and release is useful not just when singing, and extends far beyond the muscles you consciously use to produce sound. Singing practice often includes a warm-up specifically designed not only to strengthen the vocal cords but also to release any stored up muscle tension. Do it regularly enough and you’re basically introducing muscle relaxation techniques into your daily routine. The more regularly you sing, and therefore release tension, the better you will feel overall.
6. Singing improves your breathingApart from increasing your lung capacity and strengthening your diaphragm and other muscles involved in the breathing process, the correct singing technique also requires strong breath control. With correct tuition and regular practice, this valuable life skill can be developed and is useful far beyond the confines of singing alone. In fact, singing has been shown to have beneficial effects on people with COPD, a type of obstructive lung disease, as well as the overall population. “Singing for breathing” has shown such beneficial effects that there are now specialist classes aimed at helping those suffering from various lung diseases improve their health through singing.
7. Singing reduces depression and anxietySinging and wellbeing go hand in hand. Apart from endorphins, mindfulness and stress reduction, singing, as mentioned above, encourages deep breathing and an overall focus on the breath as a tool. If you suffer from anxiety, you probably already know that breathing techniques are a popular tool for controlling and reducing anxiety. In many ways, the breathing exercises used to strengthen your lungs and improve the quality of your sound are similar to the mindful breathing techniques used for controlling anxiety. Of course, both listening and participating in the creation of music are great ways to release blocked emotions and improve your overall mood. If you’re also connecting with others in order to create, you add social connection and confidence building to the mix, as well as a sense of belonging.
8. Singing improves memory and focusThe UK’s Alzheimer’s Society recommends singing as a beneficial group activity for dementia patients. A 2016 study showed singing improved both memory and mood. But these memory and focus improvements can be experienced even when singing alone at home. Learning songs, remembering correct posture and breathing technique and continuously practicing and improving your singing practice are a good brain exercise. But it’s not just dementia patients or children with ADHD who can benefit from singing; anyone who needs to improve focus and memory can benefit. And did you know it’s actually easier to learn a new language or remember important information when it’s sung, rather than spoken?