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Why Singing is Good for Your Health

Looking for a fun way to get and stay healthy?

Try singing on a regular basis.

But not any old singing will do. The kind of singing that will provide you with significant health benefits has to come from deep inside your chest, even from your abdomen.

If you've ever been in a choir, you've probably been told that the proper way to sing is from your belly.

The idea is to use your diaphragm - the large muscle that separates your chest and abdominal cavities - to push air out through your vocal cords.

Using your diaphragm to sing is a good way to promote a healthy lymphatic system, which in turn promotes a healthy immune system.

If you want to start singing for health and have some fun with it, I highly recommend that you learn how to sing in harmony with another person or group of people. Singing in harmony with others is easily one of my favorite things to do.

If you want to learn how to sing in harmony with others but don't know how, you can do what I did and learn with tapes or CDs. Back in 1997, I had to drive from northern California to Toronto. For five straight days, I did nothing but drive for eleven hours a day while listening to and singing along with some tapes by a lady named Cathy Fink and some of her friends.

I loved that her tapes were recorded in such a way that I could listen to and sing along with different parts of songs by turning the balance dial on my car stereo one way or the other. When I turned it all the way to the left, I could hear the lower pitched version of the song, and when I turned it all the way to the right, I could hear the higher pitched version of the song - what a brilliant and simple way to learn how to sing in harmony!

Whether you get your feet wet with singing in harmony with others or not, do your health a favor and belt out a few tunes on a regular basis. But remember: it has to come from deep within, not just from your throat.

And if you're a bit shy, you can always save your singing for the shower when no one else is home or when you're in the car and have the windows rolled up.

Your immune system will thank you for it.

Please note: Another CD program that teaches how to sing in harmony with others, one that has good reviews at Amazon.com, can be found here:

Harmony Singing by Ear

 
 

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Comments

I am a member of a non-profit, world-wide women's educational a cappella singing organization called Sweet Adelines International, which has close to 30,000 members. To be more specific, I direct a chorus in Texas called the Twin City Sensations Chorus, which is a chartered chorus with Sweet Adelines International. We sing four-part a cappella harmony in the barbersohp style. I've been receiving your e-newsletters for quite a while, but didn't join until after your wrote this terrific article (Singing For Health) in 2004. I just found it today and thought it was terrific, so I sent the link to this article to about 100 of my fellow singers! We teach proper breathing (from the diaphragm) which sustains our tone for long phrases. We've known about quite a few benefits from deep diaphragmatic breathing for many years. Thank you for sharing another benefit of our wonderful hobby - promoting a healthy immune system! I wouldn't be at all surprised if your readership (viewership?) takes a big jump up within the next few weeks or month, as I have already heard from one of my friends who said she shared the article (yours) with her entire chorus - 40 women. I sent this article to 28 chorus directors in my region and that doesn't count my own chorus as well as my friends who sing other genres! And those ladies know LOTS of other choruses in other regions all over the world! :-D

It may follow that playing wind instruments regularly would have similar benefits. I've noticed that I've remained much healthier over the last few years, and I now realize it coincides with when I started learning and playing the Great Highland Bagpipes in our local pipeband.

Although I am audiologically deaf, with hearing aids I can hear some sound. Do I sing? You Betcha! I also chant. I also tone ("OOOOOOOOOO" "AAAAAAAAAHHHHHH" etc.) I also hummmmmmmmm. I also listen to music with my MP3. I also make up my own songs, as I walk along the river listening to its song.

Who cares if I'm a little off key (I have a good excuse, grin!) or absolutely wrong on that note.

When I was younger, I sang in my church's choir. I don't know how the people next to me put up with me, but they did and I heard no complaints. Talk about compassion and support!

Dr. Alice Cash has some info on how music helps during and after surgery (among other things). I'm sure there are other good resources, but the best thing to do is "JUST DO IT!"

In Harmony,
Dawn

What a great topic!

My parents used to hum & whistle constantly at home and I do the same (although I must admit that occasionally, I break out into full fledged concert-style singing...) I find that it lifts my spirits immediately, probably releases endorphins. Nice to hear that it will help my immune system too.

When my son was 5, I heard him singing to himself in his room...my heart melted...I knew he too had learned to take comfort from singing for no reason at all!

TRY PLAYING AN INSTRUMENT! It can damage your ears long term, but playing in a Symphonic Band and bonding with everyone while working extremely hard to improve my skills was easily one of the most enjoyable events in my life...really adds meaning to one's life. New skill, close friends, good for your diaphragm (yes, rock hard belly on the way if you're a hard enough worker) and beautiful music which can deliver goosebumps. Music is amazing. I don't think any other word fits it=)

I am an opera singer, retired. Studied Bel Canto style of voice. You are so correct about the joy to the immune system. Even if one cannot carry a tune, sing anyway. Are U happy cuz yr singing- or are U singing cuz yr happy? This will be yr experience - if U just sing anyway! Thx Dr Kim

YES YES YES - even if you can't carry a tune - SING ANYWAY!

Thank you, Dr. Kim for your article. Singing has indeed proved beneficial to me - I have serious lung disease and feel that if it weren't for singing, I would be in a lot worse shape. I sing at home at the top of my lungs usually every day (my poor neighbors - hope they are getting a good chuckle instead of looking for the ear plugs!). One thing I picked up from someone somewhere was about the voice being an instrument that can be likened to an accordion or "squeezebox." The diaphragm draws the air in and expands the lungs, then the diaphragm pushes the air out through the vocal chords, etc. where sound is produced and modulated, that seemed logical to me. I have noticed marked improvement in my breathing (and my singing voice! NOT great, but I can carry a tune). I'm not afraid to sing out loud any more - and I love trying to harmonize with whoever I may be listening to. I also battle depression and anxiety, and I do believe that singing has helped lessen those issues too. I recommend it highly - to everybody. (Go out and sit in the car to sing if you have to....) Thanks again, for all you do.