I wanted to track all the potential health benefits of singing, so this post will be updated as I come across more evidence. The World Health Organisation describes health as “A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease” (WHO’s Website) For this reason, I’ve divided up the page into 3 categories: Physical Health, Mental Health and Social Health, although of course, they are all interlinked and one aspect of health is bound to determine another aspect of health.
Physical health benefits include:
- Increased lung capacity through developed breath control (singing can help strengthen and tone the diaphragm, a muscle which sits beneath the lungs, and the intercostal muscles. These muscles are essentially what dictate thoracic capacity)
- Improved co-ordination e.g. through rhythm games
- Increased circulation
- Aids speech ability by exercising the mouth, toning facial muscles, and developing ability to project the voice with improved breath control
- Improves and maintains posture
- Stronger immune system – some research suggests that singing promotes the production of two body chemicals that are part of the body’s immune defence system – immunoglobulin and cortisol.
Mental health benefits include:
- Relaxation and release of tension through deeper breathing
- Engaging in positive activity helps alleviate mental distress by offering a distraction and diverting the participant from day-to-day worries
- The boost in self-confidence and self-awareness that comes from opportunities for creative self-expression.
- A sense of joy that comes from feeling part of something larger than oneself.
- Singing produces the same ‘happy’ brain chemicals produced by sex and chocolate
- Improved mental alertness as a result of learning new songs, and new challenges such as singing in a different language or singing in harmony.
- Chance to think or explore issues that are perhaps too difficult to talk about, but which can be examined in a song.
Social health benefits include:
- Meeting new people
- A relaxed atmosphere, conducive to conversation
- Songs which may jog people’s memories, providing a way-in to reminiscence dialogues
- Opportunity to discuss difficult issues in a supportive environment, should these issues arise.