We all know that uplifting feeling that singing gives us.
Whether we’re singing in the shower, singing to celebrate a birthday or other occasion, singing to worship, singing to soothe/heal or singing to support and motivate our favourite sports team, singing has always been fundamental to our lives and our wellbeing.
But now medical research has proven that singing, and specifically singing in a group, can provide a wealth of physical and psychological health benefits, including:
- Reducing pain (singing releases endorphins, the body’s natural pain killer)
- Reducing stress (singing has been proven to lower cortisol levels)
- Lifting our mood
- Promoting deep breathing (great for managing anxiety or lung conditions)
- Improving immunity
- Lowering blood pressure
- Improving posture
- Making us feel better!
In fact one recent study showed that group singing is as beneficial to our health as yoga!
Group singing also has the social element of meeting other people and achieving something together as group.
In an interesting experiment last Autumn, Channel 4’s “Live
Well for Longer” programme focused on ways all of us can lower our stress
levels in the hectic 24/7 world in which we live. The show explored a range of possible
stress-reducers and blood pressure reducers, ranging from foods like beetroot,
porridge oats and coconut water, through to group singing.
We all know singing can make us feeling happy and uplifted
and in a better mood, but would this be reflected in a scientific test? And
indeed how would group singing stack up against the stress-lowering foods being
Well the programme took saliva swabs from a group of singers
both before and after their rehearsal, which measured their cortisol levels, a
chemical in the body which rises when we are stressed.
And the results showed that after just a short time of singing, on average choir members’ cortisol levels dropped by an amazing 10%! Some individual members saw much larger drops, of 30%, 40% and in one case – 77%!
So what about the foodstuffs?
Well of the group testing coconut water, around 50% saw a drop in blood pressure while 50% saw it rise, and overall the group actually had a 2mm rise in blood pressure.
And for the beetroot experiment group the results were identical.
But the porridge oats test group had a more promising result, as 75% of them saw a drop in blood pressure, while 25% had an increase. This group showed an average decrease in the mercury over 6 weeks of 5mm.
But the most startling finding in the whole programme was the long-term effect of group singing on stress levels. It seems that those of us who regularly sing in a choir gain exponential benefits, as the experiment showed that the choir on average had cortisol levels that were a staggering 50% lower than the general population!
It’s amazing that something as simple and easy as singing in a group can make such a difference to our wellbeing. It’s something we can all do to help ourselves stay happy and healthy. And the great news is, everyone can benefit as it really doesn’t matter whether or not you can sing – just having a go will still deliver the health and wellbeing benefits.
And if you feel your vocal cords are not up to joining a formal choir, then why not join a singing group for health and wellbeing, where the focus is on singing for fun and wellness, not getting everything note perfect.
If you’d like to know more about the health and wellness benefits of singing, or you’d like information about “Sing Your Pain Away” – group singing classes for wellbeing, health and fun, then please contact Jane Gatfield on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit “Sing Your Pain Away” on facebook.