Benefits of singing
Singing certainly produces the 'feel good factor' and current research, well-documented in recent months in the national press, is finding that it holds huge health benefits. As well as increasing self-esteem and lowering stress levels, singing groups provide a supportive environment in which to make new friends.
Harvard and Yale Universities have confirmed that singing reduces stress by lowering the heart rate and encouraging the release of mood-enhancing endorphins in the brain. Research at a Japanese Medical School has found that the deep breathing used in singing is good for the nervous system and scientists at Stockholm University have found that singing helps sufferers of IBS by releasing oxytocin, which helps to prevent the spasms and pains associated with the condition.
To quote from The Daily Telegraph: Singing is a great way to work out - it's an aerobic exercise that increases oxygen levels in the blood without leaving you hot and sweaty. Singing makes you look good - it improves posture and tones tummy muscles. Singing reduces stress levels and blood pressure. It's very hard to worry and sing simultaneously!
'Why does music lift our spirits?
Professor Steven Clift, music and health expert explains:
''There's no doubt that singing makes us happy. It's incredibly engaging and we get instant positive feedback. People often report their stress draining away, in fact an accurate interpretation of how it affects us physiologically. Research shows that levels of the stress hormone cortisol decrease when we sing, lowering our heart rate and relaxing us.
Interestingly, another hormone found to rise when we sing in choirs is oxytocin, associated with pregnancy and labour, and found to peak in fathers present at the birth of their children. The oxytocin underpins our ability to form bonds, which explains that sense of connection when we sing en masse.
And what about those chills we've probably all felt from a powerful musical experience? They're caused by a sudden release of dopamine, the body's natural happy chemical.''