Health – The Health Benefits of Singing

Many studies done over a number of years have focused on the health benefits of singing, and the evidence is overwhelming: singing is good for you.

Singing strengthens the health, broadens the mind, refines the intellect, expands the imagination, makes one happy and gives life a little added zest.

Singing boosts the immune system by causing the body to generate immunoglobin A, a protein considered a first line of defense against respiratory infections. It also increases the production of hydrocortisone, an anti-stress hormone.

Singing releases endorphins into your system and makes you feel uplifted and energized. People who sing are frequently healthier than people who don’t.

Singing gives the lungs a workout. It makes us breathe more deeply than many other forms of strenuous exercise. We take in more oxygen and in turn, our aerobic capacity is improved and we can experience a release of muscle tension.

All of these things—a more robust immune system, a happier mood, stronger lungs, reduced stress and improved circulation—can help prolong life.

And, singing is free. Nearly everyone has the ability, if not perfect tone, to sing for their entire lifetime. Greg Cohen of George Washington University tracked a Senior Singers Chorale in Arlington, Virginia. The chorale singers’ average age is 80—the youngest is 65 and the oldest 96. Preliminary data shows the singers suffer less depression, make fewer doctor visits a year, take fewer medications and have increased their other activities. So singing can provide an inexpensive, easily accessible and powerful way to improve physiological and psychological well-being.

Singing starts in infancy. Babies are known to sing to themselves in moments of absolute emotional tranquility. Like the infant, we sing to ourselves because we feel good. We often find ourselves humming along with a tune or singing in the car or the shower which, in turn, makes us feel even better.

Preschool and kindergarten teachers have found that children learn best through singing, and for a long time, have used music to help children learn and remember material. Music is used to engage the children in activities that are associated with the songs they are singing. Music, including singing, also helps to strengthen math skills.

In music therapy, certain sounds benefit particular parts of the body. For example:

  • Singing the short-a sound, as in ahh, will help banish the blues. It forces oxygen into the blood, which signals the brain to release mood-lifting endorphins.
  • To boost alertness, make the long-e sound, as in emit. It stimulates the pineal gland, which controls the body’s biological clock.
  • Singing the short-e sound, as in echo, stimulates the thyroid gland, which secretes hormones that control the speed of digestion and other bodily processes.
  • Singing the long-o sound, as in ocean, stimulates the pancreas, which regulates blood sugar.
  • To strengthen immunity, sing the double-o sound, as in too. This activates the spleen, which regulates the production of infection fighting white blood cells.

So, think about this: when a choir does vocal exercises that include ahh, a, e, o and oo, they are not only developing flexibility and helping to control pitch and tone—which is the purpose of vocalizing—they have just made themselves happy, given themselves a boost of energy, helped to regulate their blood sugar and have strengthened their immune system. This is one of the reasons why choral singers look to be in a state of euphoric happiness when they sing.

So, to summarize here are a few of the health benefits gained from singing:

  • improves mood
  • effective stress reliever
  • improves sleep
  • releases pain-relieving endorphins
  • improves posture
  • increases lung capacity
  • clears the sinuses and respiratory tubes
  • tones your facial and stomach muscles
  • tones abdominal and intercostal muscles and the diaphragm
  • stimulates circulation

And in addition, a few of the emotional and psychological benefits are:

  • strengthens concentration and memory
  • broadens expressive communication
  • adds a rich, more pleasant quality to speech
  • stimulates insight into prose and poetry and piques interest in the deeper meaning of words
  • is an ageless enjoyment—you are never too young or too old
  • is therapeutic
  • improves mental alertness
  • increases poise and presentation skills
  • increases confidence

And the best part is, you don’t have to be a world-class singer to enjoy all of these benefits. Singing enriches the life far beyond notes and music. Add a healthy, new dimension to your life—SING!

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to God.” Colossians 3:16

Singing with grace in our hearts to God hymns, scripture songs and uplifting songs of worship are ways we can let the word dwell in us richly. At such times when words alone aren’t enough to convey the depth of our thankfulness or praise to the Lord, singing helps open our heart to Him in a way that words may be difficult to express. So let us sing for health and praise to our God!

“Oh, sing to the Lord a new song! Sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, bless His name; proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all people. For the Lord is great and greatly to be praised.” Psalm 96:1–4, first part

Adapted from the following sources: Professor Graham Welch, Director of Educational Research, University of Surrey, Roehampton, UK; Jovita Wallace, Sound Therapist;; Patty Mills, American Academy of Teachers of Singing