Go Ahead… Sing Your Heart Out!

Mic_Singing

Do you find yourself humming as you go through your day? Do you sing along with the radio, or while taking a shower? If so, good for you! Literally.

Research shows that singing is not just fun and mood enhancing, it also has significant health benefits.

Studies of the brain show that singing releases both endorphins, which activate feelings of pleasure, and oxytocin, which alleviates anxiety and stress. Because oxytocin also elevates emotions that are tied to trust and bonding, singing helps people feel less depressed and lonely.

Multiple studies have shown that singing in groups is especially beneficial, and the phenomenon is being studied to determine its feasibility as an affordable way to improve the health and quality of life for older adults.

One study even offers an evolutionary tie: the pleasure brought on by music may have evolved as a tool for bringing people together, creating societies with interdependence instead of an every-person-for-himself mentality.

Singers are also shown to have lower levels of cortisol, known as the stress hormone. Psychology Today calls cortisol “public health enemy number one,” citing that elevated levels interfere with memory, lower immune function, decrease bone density, and lead to increases in weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart disease.

A National Institutes of Health study on the effects of choir music and the secretion of cortisol concluded: “These results suggest that choir singing positively influences both emotional affect and immune competence.”

Music improves cardiovascular health, as well. Researchers at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, found that the when choir members sing together, their heart beats tend to synchronize, which creates a bit of group calm. They also found an effect on heart rate variability, which is linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, and a breathing effect that is similar to yoga.

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