January 2012 | Vocal Bliss

January 2012

Health Benefits of Singing

By Fabio Ramesha Nani

Dear readers,

as some of you know, I gave my first singing webinar last week. As I was preparing for it, I read some interesting articles on singing that I’d like to share with you.

This first one talks about how singing can affect positively our physical health. I hope you enjoy it!

By the way, if you missed the webinar or would like to repeat the experience, I will give another one on February 2nd.

Just click here to sign up

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Health Benefits of Singing

Scientists say singing boosts immune system. – Singing strengthens the immune system, according to research by scientists at the University of Frankfurt in Germany, published in the latest edition of the US Journal of Behavioral Medicine. The scientists tested the blood of people who sang in a professional choir in the city, before and after a 60 minute rehearsal of Mozart’s Requiem.They found that concentrations of immunoglobin A – proteins in the immune system which function as antibodies – and hydrocortisone, an anti-stress hormone, increased significantly during the rehearsal. A week later, when they asked members of the choir to listen to a recording of the Requiem without singing, they found the composition of their blood did not change significantly. The researchers, who included Hans Guenther Bastian from the Institute of Musical Education at Frankfurt University, concluded singing not only strengthened the immune system but also notably improved the performer’s mood.

Singing is good for you

Many studies done over a number of years have focused on the health benefits of singing, and the evidence is overwhelming.

  • Singing releases endorphins into your system and makes you feel energized and uplifted.  People who sing are healthier than people who don’t.
  • Singing gives the lungs a workout
  • Singing tones abdominal and intercostal muscles and the diaphragm, and stimulates circulation.
  • Singing makes us breathe more deeply than many forms of strenuous exercise, so we take in more oxygen, improve aerobic capacity and experience a release of muscle tension as well.” — Professor Graham Welch, Director of Educational Research, University of Surrey, Roehampton, UK

Singing can help prolong life

Graham Welch, director for advanced music education at London’s Roehampton Institute, states “Singing exercises the vocal cords and keeps them youthful, even in old age. The less age-battered your voice sounds, the more you will feel, and seem, younger.” He says that when you break into song, your chest expands and your back and shoulders straighten, thus improving your posture. Singing lifts moods and clears the “blues” by taking your mind off the stresses of the day, as well as releasing pain-relieving endorphins. As you sing along, the professor adds, your circulation is improved, which in turn oxygenates the cells and boosts the body’s immune system to ward off minor infections. And “it provides some aerobic exercise for the elderly or disabled,” Welch says. A recent German study has shown that active amateur group singing can lead to significant increases in the production of a protein considered as the first line of defense against respiratory infections, and also leads to positive emotional changes. “Given that every human being is, in principle, capable of developing sufficient vocal skills to participate in a chorale for a lifetime, active group singing may be a risk-free, economic, easily accessible, and yet powerful road to enhanced physiological and psychological well-being.”

​Greg Cohen of George Washington University tracked a Senior Singers Chorale in Arlington, Va. The chorale singers’ average age is 80 — the youngest is 65 and the oldest 96. Preliminary data shows the singers suffer less depression, make fewer doctor visits a year, take fewer medications and have increased their other activities.

Reid Wilson, Ph.D., Associate Clinical Professor Of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, believes you can, “sing away your woes.” Simply choose a familiar song, and then set your troubles to music. For example, instead of crooning the traditional words to Mary Had A Little Lamb, imagine warbling, “My credit card bill is going to be late, going to be late, going to be late; my credit rating will be ruined, and I’ll never get a mortgage.” Sing your own version of the worry song in your mind, or out loud for a few minutes, until you feel less anxious. It works because “the singing makes you feel ridiculous”, says Wilson. “And it’s very hard to maintain your distress when you’re doing something foolish. You step back from the worry and put it in perspective.”

​Sound therapist Jovita Wallace says “Sound vibrations massage your aura, going straight to what’s out of balance and fixing it.”

  • Singing the short-a sound, as in ahh, for 2-3 minutes will help banish the blues. It forces oxygen into the blood, which signals the brain to release mood-lifting endorphins.
  • To boost alertness, make the long-e sound, as in emit. It stimulates the pineal gland, which controls the body’s biological clock.
  • Singing the short-e sound, as in echo stimulates the thyroid gland, which secretes hormones that control the speed which digestion and other bodily processes occur.
  • Making the long-o sound as in ocean stimulates the pancreas, which regulates blood sugar.
  • To strengthen immunity, sing the double-o sound, as in tool. This activates the spleen, which regulates the production of infection fighting white blood cells.

So…let’s all SING!

 

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Questions? 

Feel free to contact me about any singing-related issue or doubt that you might have. I will do my best to help you  find a solution for it.

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