Below is an article by Lyndsey Rodrigues on the Benefits of Singing.
Belting out your favourite song can feel great, but can it actually be good for your health?
Lyndsey Rodrigues set out to investigate some of the health benefits of singing. She was lucky enough to score her very own singing lesson with voice and performance engineer Corinne Smith.
Singing has physical benefits because it is an aerobic activity which increases oxygenation in the blood stream and exercises major muscle groups in the upper body, even when sitting. But it’s not just the physical benefits of singing that make it great for us. According to Dr Dianna Kenny, professor of psychology and music at the University of Sydney, singing does for the soul what food and water do for our bodies. “We know that singing has very positive affects on people’s mood. It brings people together; it’s used in a whole range of activities, both social and personal. But in all of the major events in our lives there is singing and music,” Dr Kenny says. “If you think about weddings and funerals and the call to battle, and the wailing of some cultures when people have died, it’s how they express their grief,” she says. “Babies love to coo and sing in response to their mother’s voice so it’s a very primal thing in many ways, it has an affect on our mood states and it has an effect on who we are.”
There’s no doubt that singing can affect our mood, but can it boost our health, too? To put singing to the test, we enlisted the help of biological scientist Dr Sinan Ali and the Macquarie University Choir. The aim of our experiment was to test whether levels of the stress hormone cortisol would diminish in a one-hour singing rehearsal, and whether the protein immunoglobulin A, which is a marker of immunity, would increase.
Dr Ali collected a saliva sample from 10 choir members before they began rehearsals; and another saliva sample after the choir members had been rehearsing for about one hour.
Our singers needed to be in a relaxed state, as performance tends to cause anxiety and therefore could alter our results, so our samples were collected at their usual Monday-night rehearsal.
Dr Ali believed that the tests would, “show us levels of the hormone and levels of the protein and from that we can infer what the level of stress and what the level of immunity may be”.
so, did we see a reduction in cortisol and an increase in immunoglobulin A following the singing rehearsal?
Our test results revealed that there was about a 40 percent reduction in the level of the stress hormone cortisol overall. Dr Ali was impressed by the results. “Nine out of the 10 people actually showed a decrease in cortisol,” he says. “There was one
individual who showed an increase but nine out of 10, that’s amazing!”
Results weren’t as obvious in relation to immunoglobulin A, with our participants registering only a slight increase in immunoglobulin A. But Dr Ali believes this was not unexpected. “We’ve had a slight increase and that’s not unexpected because it is
a protein and it’s going to take a longer time period for that effect to be seen.”
It seems that singing really can do wonders for our health and wellbeing, as well as help relieve stress, so don’t worry too much about what you sound like, start singing today!