[Guest blog] The health benefits of singing

Marianne Barraclough
Education Manager and Sing Viva Choir Leader at Sinfonia Viva
13 March 2019
Next review due March 2022

Whether you’re a member of your local community choir, or prefer hitting those high notes solo in the shower – there’s nothing quite like the feeling of getting lost in a good song. But you don’t have to have the voice of an angel to take part, people of all ages and abilities can get involved in singing.

Getting together with a group of like-minded people in a choir setting could help take you away from the stresses and responsibilities of everyday life. So whether you join in for confidence, escapism or just for the fun of it, here we’ll explain why you might benefit from singing just a little bit more.

An image of a woman singing

Physical health

You might think that your voice does most of the work when you sing, but in actual fact there are lots of different parts of your body involved.

Get your body moving

Before you begin singing, it’s not just your vocal chords that need warming up, but the rest of your body too. You’ll start by doing some simple exercises and stretching your neck and shoulders to help release any tension in your body and prepare you to sing. During your practice, you’ll often need to keep switching between sitting and standing positions too. Sometimes you might begin to incorporate your arms and legs through clapping, stepping and even dancing, which all helps to get your body moving.

Help improve your posture

It’s important to think about your posture when you sing. How you hold your body can help you to open up your airways, take deep breaths and project your voice. Holding your shoulders back and down, keeping your head high, chest relaxed and your back upright could help you to be more mindful of your posture. Good posture can help you to sound better when you sing. And positive body language, such as holding your head proud and your shoulders back, could help you to feel more open and confident too.

Look after your lung health

It’s thought that singing could also help you to look after the health of your lungs. Singing teaches you to slow down, breathe deeply and control your breathing. This can be particularly helpful if you have an existing lung condition like COPD or asthma, or if you are feeling anxious. Singing also helps to strengthen the abdominal (tummy) muscles that support breathing, can improve your lung function and help you to breathe more easily.

Some studies also suggest that singing could help to look after your heart and strengthen your immune system, but more research is needed to be sure.

Mental health

Singing is also good for your mental and emotional wellbeing too. Some GPs and nurses even refer people to social and community activities – such as singing – to help improve their health and wellbeing. This is known as social prescribing.

Feel happier and more relaxed

Singing may help to improve your mood and reduce your stress levels. This is because singing has been shown to reduce the levels of stress hormones like cortisol in your body. Singing also increases happy hormones such as oxytocin and endorphins in your body, leaving you feeling happier and more relaxed.

Socialise and feel connected

Joining your local singing group or choir can be a great way to make new friends, feel connected and build relationships. You might meet other like-minded people who you share a common interest with and can talk to. Singing in a group or choir can also bring about a sense of community and belonging.

Take time out for yourself

In a fast-paced and busy world where everyone has lots of commitments, it’s not always easy to find time for yourself. But allocating time each week or month to practise your singing could be your opportunity for some much needed and valued ‘me-time.’ Making the time for yourself to enjoy your hobbies and get some headspace from your responsibilities is important when it comes to looking after your mental wellbeing.

Set yourself a goal

As you get used to your singing practice, you may begin to look forward to your sessions. You can then set yourself a bigger goal to work towards. This could be learning one new song each month, or it could be performing in front of an audience. You’ll feel a huge sense of pride and achievement when you accomplish your goal, and it could even help to boost your self-esteem and confidence.

Practise mindfulness

Whether you’re busy trying to remember the lyrics or getting swept away in the music, it’s easy to find yourself caught up in the moment when you’re singing. Singing can help you to forget about your day-to-day worries and responsibilities. Instead it helps you become focussed and present. Slowing your breathing, being present and calm is known as mindfulness. Practising mindfulness in this way can help to boost your wellbeing.

Keep your brain active

Learning new words and melodies can also be a great way to stimulate and revitalise your mind. So next time you reach for the Sudoku or puzzle book, why not try learning a new song instead? You could even go one step further and test yourself by taking away the lyrics and learning it by ear.

Sinfonia Viva received a grant from the Bupa UK Foundation. The Bupa UK Foundation funds practical projects that will make a direct impact on people's health and wellbeing. Launched in 2015, to date it has awarded over £1.4 million in grants to more than 50 projects across the UK to improve people’s mental health, support carers and empower young adults living with ongoing health challenges to live life to the full.

Sinfonia Viva logo

Sinfonia Viva is a professional orchestra and music charity. Working with communities we use music creation as a medium to unlock individual potential and strengthen understanding and community cohesion. Our participatory projects vary from small one to one experiences with professional orchestral musicians, to live performances with 250 people on stage and 800 participating audience members.

Sing Viva is our participatory Choir for carers. We currently support three choirs within the East Midlands.

Are you interested in learning more about your health? Discover more about our range of health assessments.

Marianne Barraclough
Marianne Barraclough and Caroline Swaby
Education Manager and Sing Viva Choir Leader at Sinfonia Viva

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