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You're Reading 10 Surprising Ways Singing Can Help You Feel and Look Great

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Health

10 Surprising Ways Singing Can Help You Feel and Look Great

Go ahead and turn up those speakers. The benefits of belting out a tune, from helping to kill pain to supporting immunity, go far beyond Black Girl Joy.

As the lights went down in the theater and the movie started, I heard a familiar tune. The entire room erupted in song, as adults belted out The Flintstones theme song. The entire song. Word for word.

It was infectious. Even shy, quiet little me joined in. I’ll admit it, I felt joy as I recalled the opening from one of my favorite childhood cartoons. I didn’t know it at the time, but that impromptu sing-a-long had health benefits — it released feel-good hormones, giving me a sense of connectedness and bonding (apparently even with strangers) and, as I mentioned, joy.

“The act of singing sends vibrations through the body that simultaneously lower the level of cortisol (the stress hormone) and release endorphins, making us feel content,” according to WebMD. “The anticipation of a singing group’s melodic changes floods the body with dopamine, resulting in a sense of euphoria.”

Here’s how singing (yep, even in the shower) benefits our health and well-being.

Singing improves your mood. Singing releases neurochemicals (the “happy” chemicals) — endorphins, serotonin and dopamine — that make you feel uplifted and positive. It reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression. Remember the videos of musicians and singers on balconies in Italy and the videos of singing health care professionals during the first wave of COVID-19? Singing can help one cope with emotional distress and social isolation.

Singing can give you a sense of community. Social interaction helps us maintain our health, helping to build connection and feelings of togetherness and belonging. Group singing, in particular, has been found to increase levels of oxytocin, another feel-good hormone, called the “love drug.” It doesn’t have to be an in-person choir, which indoors can be a super-spreader, it can be group singing via Zoom or an online or intimate karaoke session with vaccinated friends.

Singing provides aerobic activity. In order to project your voice, you are working the lungs, building a stronger diaphragm and improving circulation due to the use of more oxygen needed to carry a tune.

As Earth, Wind & Fire sings: “When you feel down and out/Sing a song (it’ll make your day)/If you sing a song today/You will make a better way.”

Singing enhances lung function. Singing helps increase lung capacity and strengthens the muscles around the rib cage. Singing has been used in rehabilitation of people suffering from lung conditions, and it may also benefit people suffering from post-COVID-19 conditions known as long COVID-19.

Singing may improve sleep quality. Studies have shown that singing might also alleviate snoring and improve symptoms of mild to moderate sleep apnea, as it strengthens muscles in the airways. It also may reduce symptoms of mild asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

Singing has anti-aging benefits. Singing may help counteract aging effects by improving facial muscle tone, increasing blood flow to the skin and reducing cortisol, which affects collagen and accelerates the aging process in older skin.

Singing is a natural painkiller. It has been found that singing helps those with chronic pain through a sense of well-being and the release of endorphins.

Singing supports a healthy immune system by reducing the stress hormone cortisol and boosting immunoglobulin A antibody. A 2016 study showed that singing in groups may increase levels of immune proteins called cytokines in cancer patients, stimulating the immune system to attack tumors, reduce inflammation and promote healing.

Singing improves mental alertness by delivering more oxygenated blood to the brain and helping improve concentration and focus, since singing engages many areas of the brain. It has been used as therapy in dementia cases, as it has been found to help dementia and Alzheimer's patients improve concentration and memory recollection.

Singing boosts confidence. Good posture is important for hitting the proper notes, and according to research, a straight frame also supports self-esteem.

As Earth, Wind & Fire sings: “When you feel down and out/Sing a song (it’ll make your day)/If you sing a song today/You will make a better way.”

You don’t have to sing in a choir; singing solo is an instant mood booster. And you also don’t have to sing like Jennifer Hudson or the great Aretha Franklin to reap the benefits.

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