The Benefits of Singing: You Could be Smarter and Healthier!

The Benefits of Singing: You Could be Smarter and Healthier!
Photo by S&B Vonlanthen / Unsplash

Singing not only brings joy to those around you, but also has many benefits that make it a worthwhile activity. There is good reason why you feel more relaxed and happier after you sing. In this article, I will explain all the known benefits of singing. Maintaining youthful looks and living longer are just some that you might be interested in!

The 15 Key Benefits of Singing

There are a number of scientific studies and literature reviews that have been conducted which support the benefits of singing listed below. I have included a list of studies at the end of this article for you to take a look at if you are a bit of a science nut like me!

1. Makes You Happy (through chemicals!)

It is well documented that singing releases 'happy chemicals' in your body. These chemicals include the following:

  • Endorphins: promote pleasure and reduce the sensation of pain.
  • Serotonin: Stabilises/improves your mood and promotes healthy sleeping patterns.
  • Dopamine: Enhances sense of reward and pleasure, and improves memory and muscle movement.

This combination of chemicals makes you feel happier. Even if you were initially stressed or nervous about a performance, the chemicals released when singing make you feel good long after the nerves have faded away.

2. Reduces Stress, Anxiety and Depression

Not only does singing make your body release chemicals to make you happy (which naturally helps with stress), but it also reduces the bad hormones in your body.

  • Lowers Adrenaline: The 'fight-or-flight' hormone. Lowering adrenaline brings your body back to its 'normal' state of relaxation.
  • Lowers Cortisol: The stress hormone. Lowering cortisol allows organs to step out of 'hyperdrive mode' back to their relaxed state.

Singing also naturally introduces well-known breathing techniques for relieving stress, anxiety and depression. As a singer, you learn to monitor your breathing and breath more effectively. This is equivalent to the deep-breathing used in a therapy situation.

3. Improves Your Cardiovascular Health

Singing is classified as an aerobic activity because it improves your cardiovascular health, introducing more oxygen into the bloodstream. Below are the key improvements your singing will have on your cardiovascular system.

  • Increases Circulation: More blood flow to muscles, organs and your skin too.
  • Improves Heart Rate Variability: This makes your body more adaptable to change.
  • Improves Oxygen Saturation: More oxygen in the blood means your heart and lungs don't need to work as hard to supply your body with oxygen.
  • Lowers Blood Pressure: Less demand means lower blood pressure too!

4. Enhances Lung Function

As you breathe to sing, you engage your diaphragm and the muscles around your ribcage to control the breath. This strengthens these muscles, allowing them to work more effectively when you breathe on a day-to-day basis.

Your lung capacity also increases due to the deep breathing involved in singing each phrase.

5. Helps to Prevent Illness

Singing helps to keep your sinuses and respiratory tract clear. This gives bacteria less opportunity to thrive and make you sick from common respiratory illnesses, such as colds or the flu.

6. Improves Brain Function

As a result of more blood flow to the brain (from improved circulation and oxygen saturation), your brain function should also improve through singing. Below are some key ways your brain will improve.

  • Improves Memory
  • Enhances Mental Awareness
  • Improves Concentration

These improvements are also a result of training your brain to focus on several tasks at once. When you sing (or play an instrument), you need to consciously focus on pitch, volume, breathing, posture, etc., which uses several parts of the brain at once.

Multitasking like this creates new pathways in the brain, ultimately making it easier to use your brain in the future!

7. Boosts Your Immune System

Research has shown that singing also boosts your immune system by increasing your production of an antibody called 'immunoglobulin A'.

Immunoglobulin A: One of the strongest antibodies in the body that uses mucous membranes to protect you from infection and disease.

8. Develops Muscle Tone

Not only does singing tone your diaphragm and the muscles between your ribs, it also gives tone to the muscles in your face and abdomen. This doesn't mean you'll develop 'abs' from singing, but your stomach muscle may become firmer.

As for your face, toning your facial muscles will help to keep your face looking younger and healthier (especially with the added circulation that goes with it). This is because singing engages muscles we may not use in our day-to-day communication.

9. Builds Relationships

Whether you are singing solo or in a group, you will still have the opportunity to build social connections with other people.

This affect is more pronounced in those that sing in groups, but even solo singers make connections with band members, stagehands, sound engineers or their agents. These relationships build a sense of belonging, which helps to relieve stress and anxiety, boost confidence, etc.

Not only that, but the body also releases oxytocin when singing with others.

Oxytocin: A hormone that makes you feel happier and more socially connected to others.

10. Promotes a Higher Pain Tolerance

As a result of endorphins, oxytocin and a general increase in joy and relaxation, singing makes it easier to tolerate pain. This includes both physical and mental pain. This is why music is often used as a therapy aid in rehabilitation.

11. Boosts Your Confidence

When you sing, you allow yourself to benefit from positive reinforcement. Whether it's receiving a round of applause or simply hitting the note you have been trying to reach, these small wins help to boost your confidence.

More often than not, it's the voice in our head that takes our confidence away, so singing with others or for an audience gives us the positive feedback we need. You will find most people will enjoy your performance, whether you nail it or not.

12. Corrects Posture

Correct singing posture encourages you to keep your spine straight and shoulders relaxed. This maintains good posture to keep your body in balance (literally balancing your weight!).

Good posture can prevent long-term problems such as kyphosis (hunching of the back) and will enable you to continue breathing effectively.

13. Improves Verbal Communication

Singing has also been used in therapy for conditions that affect verbal communication. These conditions include autism, Parkinson's disease, stuttering or stroke-induced aphasia.

The prolonged vowels and specific shaping of the mouth (known as 'embouchure') makes it easier for individuals to learn or re-learn how to communicate verbally. It may even help you with your own diction (speaking more clearly).

14. Promotes Better Sleep

As I mentioned earlier, the serotonin produced when you sing helps to promote healthy sleeping patterns. In simple terms, it improves the quality of your sleep.

On top of this, singing can also help with conditions such as sleep apnea and snoring (we all know someone who needs help with this!). This is likely because singing trains the muscles in your mouth and throat to maintain open airways, and promotes strong deep breathing.

15. Increases Your Lifespan

As you can see, there are many health benefits to singing, particular regular and long-term singing. This makes it no surprise that singing also has the potential to increase your lifespan (assuming you make other good and healthy choices throughout your life).

Research has shown that elderly individuals who participate in singing activities, even during their short time in aged-care, generally live longer than those who do not participate. Not only that, but it improves their quality of life by improving brain function as well (which I discussed earlier).

If I didn't love singing already, this would certainly be enough to convince me to pick it up!

Can Singing Make You Smarter?

Singing definitely has the potential to make you smarter! Here is why.

As I mentioned earlier in this article, singing improved brain function in a number of ways. This includes higher levels of concentration, improved memory and mental clarity.

These are all attributes that are going to contribute to your ability to learn and retain new information.

It is also known that less blood flow to your brain can temporarily reduce your natural IQ. Therefore, the increased blood flow to your brain and higher saturation of oxygen will allow you to maintain a higher IQ.

In addition to this, keeping your body in a relaxed and happy state makes it easier to problem-solve and make decisions. This makes you much wiser (ie smarter) than if you are stressed or anxious.

Keep in mind, these changes in your body are going to give you the potential to make you smarter, but you still have to make the effort to get there!

Supporting Studies

Fawn, et. al. (2020)

Kang, et. al. (2018)

Kenny & Faunce (2004)

Moss, Lynch & O'Donoghue (2017)

Osman, Tischler & Schneider (2016)

Sakano, et. al. (2014)

Stark (2004)

de Witt, et. al. (2020)

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