Singing brings people together and has many true health benefits. Singing is a great for alleviating stress and all ages can enjoy in this activity. In rare instances over use of the voice can lead to vocal fatigue or sometimes lesions classified as nodules, polyps or cysts.
Singing has many health benefits that range from relieving stress to improving cognitive function. Studies have demonstrated that when we sing we release two main hormones-endorphins and oxytocin. Many people are familiar with the endorphin “rush” that happens during regular exercise. Endorphins are neurotransmitters (transmit electrical signals) that are produced in the central nervous system and the pituitary gland. Endorphins act on opiate receptors in our brain. When we sing that endorphin “rush” occurs and enhances good feelings, boosts pleasurable thoughts and helps to alleviate depression and pain. Endorphins produced from singing gives an overall feeling of well being. Oxytocin is another hormone that is produced from singing and like endorphins enhances mood, boosts good thoughts and decreases anxiety and helps alleviate feelings of depression. Researchers have also discovered that singers have lower cortisol levels in their blood stream which equates to decrease stress.
Singing brings more oxygen into our circulatory system which improves mental alertness and concentration. The “Singing for the Brain” program was instituted by the Alzheimer’s society to help people with dementia improve their memory.
A study at the University of Frankfurt demonstrated that singing can boost the immune system. Blood was taken from choir members after an hour long rehearsal. The levels of Immunoglobulin A (immune system antibody) were significantly higher compared to blood samples taken from a group that just listened to music.
Singing helps your lungs and your diaphragm. Singing is also known to strengthen your throat and palate muscles which may help with snoring and sleep apnea. Standing while you sing helps your posture and stamina.
Singing can also have positive effects on babies. One clinical trial in 2013 showed that premature infants in the ICU exposed to parental singing demonstrated improved heart and respiratory rates, better sleep and feeding patterns, and better weight gain. It is also felt that singing to infants will better prepare them for learning language as they age.
Some singers can experience vocal cord fatigue or develop vocal cord lesions-polyps, nodules or cysts. These are benign lesions that can cause hoarseness. Some of these lesions may need to have surgical removal but most will go away on their own.
Overall, singing is beneficial to your health and well being and it can broaden your circle of friends. Singing supports our brain chemistry and brings more oxygen into the cardiovascular system. Even if you are not a professional singer you can still reap the benefits of singing at home, in the car or in the shower.
Possible long-term side effects
- vocal fatigue
- vocal cord nodules, cysts or polyps, hoarseness
- stress reduction
- helps depression
- builds confidence
- brings people together
- release of endorphins and oxytocin
- beneficial to the immune system
- great for enhancing memory and cognition
- pulls more oxygen into the body
- supports the respiratory and circulatory system
- helps infants with overall well being
- strengthens the diaphragm
- may help with snoring and sleep apnea
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Written by Dr. Becky Maes | 03-23-2018
Written by Dr. Becky Maes
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