Singing is a great way to bring a little bit of health into your day. You don't have to be a professional singer to reap the benefits of singing. You don't even have to sing particularly well. If you are worried or self-concious, sing a little bit when no one can hear you.
So how exactly can singing improve your health? There are many things that you do while singing that can provide health benefits that you never even notice you are doing. Let's take a look at just what singing can do for you and your health.
This one is pretty simple. When you sing, you are using your lungs and your breath in a very intentional way. Singing teaches you to sustain your breath to hold long notes or sing long phrases. Singing also helps you to learn how to regulate your breathing better so that you can take in more air and let it out at different rates based on what you are doing and what that activity needs. Singing also helps to clear your sinuses and respiratory passages, so it is great when you are feeling stuffy or have sinus pressure, even though it may not be the first thing you feel like doing when you don't feel well.
Singing a little bit every day can help you to improve your lung function because every time you sing, you are basically giving your lungs a workout. People who sing tend to be able to breathe more deeply and do more activities without getting winded. Singing can also improve your lung capacity so that you are able to take in more air. Another benefit of better breathing is that it helps to oxygenate your blood. People who sing regularly have been found to have good oxygen levels in their blood which is important for keeping the body running.
Singing makes you feel happy. When you sing, you release hormones and endorphins which can help to improve your mood and promote relaxation. Singing releases the hormone Oxytocin which is also known as the love hormone. Oxytocin is released when we experience contact with someone we love, especially a romantic partner. It is released in it's greatest levels during sex and childbirth. Singing has also been shown to decrease symptoms of depression.
Singing also helps to decrease levels of the stress hormone, Cortisol. Try singing next time you are feeling stressed out about something and see the difference it makes in your mood and stress level. Along with decreasing your stress levels, singing helps to lower your blood pressure. If you tend to have high blood pressure, try finding time to sing during your day.
With the improved mood comes higher self-esteem and confidence. People who begin to sing regularly have showed an increase in both due to the decrease in stress improvement in mood. It is simple. When you are happier, you feel better about yourself.
Believe it or not, singing can actually help relieve pain. In a study at McGill University's Department of Psychology subjects were instructed to listen to music after having surgery. Listening to music helped to release dopamine which resulted in fewer requests for opiates to dull the pain.
Singing as a means of pain relief also works through distraction. When you are focused on an activity such as singing, your brain diverts focus to that activity that may be on the pain instead. By giving your brain something else to focus on, you are less likely to notice pain.
You may not think of singing as a good way to improve muscle tone, but it can do just that. Singing helps you to work out your intercostal muscles (the muscles between your ribs), your facial muscles, and your abdominal muscles. Because of the way you use your breath while singing, it can give these muscles quite a workout and even help you learn to control them if they are weak.
Because singing helps you to tone your facial muscles, it is great for people who have undergone a stroke, or have any condition that affects the facial muscles and speaking. It is also great to use with children who are just learning to speak, or who are undergoing speech therapy.
Singing by yourself can have profound benefits both physically and psychologically, but singing in a group can increase those benefits and provide more. Many studies have been done on the benefits of choral singing and the results are all pretty much the same; people who sing in groups are happier, more social, and healthier than when they don't sing in groups. Being in a group allows you to socialize with more people. Having a shared activity provides the opportunity for support and positive feedback. Workplace studies have been done where whole offices get together and sing as a group. These offices begin to show an increase in productivity and teamwork. Seniors who sing together show an improvement not only in mood but in cognitive abilities. Group singing has been shown to improve signs of Alzheimers and Dementia.
A little bit of singing every day can help you feel better mentally, physically, and spiritually. It is something small that you can do that can make a major impact in your health and well-being. Give it a try and see how you feel.