March 9, 2016

Singing can improve Health

Tess Pulver

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Scientists can point to a number of ways that make people healthier. For example, eating a proper diet and exercising are common recommendations to improve overall health. Living a stress-free lifestyle also improves health. One way to reduce stress that also is fun is singing.

According to Time Magazine, group singing has been proven to lower stress, relieve anxiety and elevate endorphins in the brain. Over time, singing changes the brain, making people more relaxed and healthy. It transforms people by giving them a new attitude.

Singing and Stress Relief

Singing can lower heart rates, decrease blood pressure and reduce stress, said Patricia Preston-Roberts, a board-certified music therapist in New York City. She uses song to help patients who suffer from a variety of psychological and physiological conditions. People who are traumatized want to leave the physical body, but music grounds them in the body. Singing can block the places where pain travels, giving no place for the emotional pain to settle inside the body.

During a song, vibrations go through the body and change the physical and emotional makeup. For those who have done it, group singing has proven exhilarating. When people sing, they take some intimate part of themselves and share it with a roomful of people.

Singing and Immune System

Studies also have linked singing to improvement in the immune system. The University of Frankfurt in Germany, found that choral members had higher levels of immunoglobulin A and cortisol, which provides improved immunity after they sang Mozart’s “Requiem” than before singing it. Just listening to the music did not have this effect. In another study, members of a choir said they had improved lung capacity; high energy; relieved asthma; better posture; and enhanced feelings of relaxation, mood and confidence.

 

To be effective in producing these health effects, people have to sing from their diaphragm, the large muscle that separates the chest and abdominal cavities, to push air out through the vocal cords.   said Dr. Ben Kim. Singing in harmony also is more effective than singing alone. When people sing together, they fight loneliness, depression and anxiety. The harmony also causes different effects in the body.

Groups Use Singing

Singing and music therapy is being used to help fight Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Chreanne Montgomery-Smith of the Alzheimer’s Society founded Singing for the Brain, which uses song to help patients suffering from the diseases. The part of the brain that works with speech is different from the part that processes music, which is what allows people who can no longer converse to still enjoy music, said Clive Ballard, director of research at the Alzheimer’s Society and professor of age-related diseases at King’s College, London.

Breakthrough Performance Workshop uses singing to help people get past those fears that hold them back from reaching their true potential. Those who take the eight-week course follow a musical journey where they sing to eliminate their stress, anxiety, fears and negative energy. They heal, feel and become real.

 

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