By Helen Holmes on November 16, 2011
Singing can make you feel good and it improves your health. You don’t need to have the voice of a professional artist to experience the positive effects of singing. According to Professor Grenville Hancox of the Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health, Canterbury, singing can bring extraordinary changes to people’s life. He and other experts also believe that singing can help people suffering from chronic illnesses including Parkinson’s disease.
The Psychological and Physical Benefits of Singing
The psychological effects of singing are not a new concept. Various studies have shown how music can positively affect an individual’s mood and emotions. The act of singing stimulates the production of endorphins or the so called ‘feel good’ chemicals. In fact, in a 1998 study conducted at the University of Newcastle, Australia, it was found that singing can significantly reduce one’s level of anxiety and depression. But aside from the physiological effects, singing can also improve your physical health. Basically, singing necessitates the use of proper breathing techniques which help in alleviating muscle tension that is usually triggered by stress and anxiety. Singing is also considered as an aerobic exercise that boosts the flow of oxygen in the body by improving blood circulation.
Choral Singers Have Higher Life-Satisfaction Rate
Whether you’re just singing in the bathroom or you’re on the stage facing hundreds of people, singing has long term positive effects in your well-being. But among all types of singing, experts believe that choral singing has the most dramatic effects on one’s life. This is according to the research published in Australia in year 2008. On the said study, it was revealed that choral singers have higher life satisfaction rate as compared with the public. This is true even if some of the problems they face are more severe than other people. Being able to build relationships with other people and the sense of belonging to a group where you can get support are key factors that make choral singers happier than most people.
Choral Singing Improves Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease
The same result showed in an ongoing study that is being lead by Professor Hancox. His team is determined to find out if choral singing can help improve the condition of people suffering from Parkinson’s disease. This is a degenerative disorder that affects the central nervous system. Parkinson’s makes it very difficult for the sufferer to move and at the same time affects their voice as the result of the deterioration of the vocal chords. Through the regular vocal practices, choral singing is said to help people with Parkinson’s in getting back their normal voices. According to Ian MacDonald, a voice specialist from the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine, the fact that the vocal cords are composed of muscles, constantly using them can increase the tone and make the vocals better. He further added that singing ‘warms the muscles up’.
Aside from Parkinson’s, the researchers also believe that choral singing can help improve the symptoms of a wide range of health problems including lung diseases.
Graham Satchell has been to Canterbury to see the Skylarks choir in action,a new choir for people with Parkinson’s can be found in the BBC iPlayer.