Sing when you’re happy… or so the old saying goes. But the truth is that singing actually makes you happy, as well as easing your aches and boosting your brain-power. Today there are thousands of choirs in Britain. British Choirs On The Net lists more than 3,300 choirs in the UK. So we know it’s popular. And fun, But is it really good for us?
Well, membership of a choir should be on prescription, says Prof Grenville Hancox from The Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health in Canterbury. He is the founder of the Skylarks choir for people with Parkinson’s disease and is undertaking research to find out if singing can ease the symptoms of serious illnesses.
In addition, numerous scientific studies have shown that belonging to a choir can ease respiratory problems, improve posture, beat depression and even provide a mini workout. And singing together raises levels of ‘happy’ hormones such as oxytocin, which can also help to lower stress and blood pressure.
Studies at Gothenburg University in Sweden have found that when choristers sing together their heartbeats synchronise and researchers found the act of singing together regulated breathing and had a calming effect comparable to yoga.
Further research, this time at Cardiff University, discovered that people being treated for lung cancer who sang were able to breathe more comfortably than those who didn’t. Proof that people with conditions that affect breathing may benefit from joining a choir.
And at the American universities of Harvard and Yale studies have suggested that choral singing can even increase life expectancy, perhaps because it can boost the immune system and reduce stress levels.
Voice specialist Ian MacDonald from the British Association of Performing Arts Medicine says voices affected by conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease can be strengthened through singing and performing can also improve core muscle tone and posture.
So there we have it you don’t sing because you’re happy; You’re happy because you sing.