Belting out our favourite songs now and again brings us lots of joy, but singing also has some other surprising benefits. For example, as well as being a great workout, singing is an anti-depressant, it helps us sleep, strengthens our immune systems, improves our mood, lowers our stress levels and can widen our circle of friends.
With all the incredible positive physical, psychological and social benefits in mind, Dubai-based opera singer Bettina Schweiger initiated a #Quarantutorial series to help lift our spirits and keep us healthy during lockdown. In the Instagram series the Austrian soprano offers free vocal lessons and shares practical ways you can take care of your voice.
With practicing healthy habits being more important than ever, Schweiger outlines why you should consider singing, which is clearly beneficial to our health, wellbeing and life skills.
1. A different kind of workout
As well as giving your lungs a workout, singing tones abdominal and intercostal muscles, as well as the diaphragm and stimulates circulation. Plus, by making you breathe more deeply than many forms of strenuous exercise, singing allows you to take in more oxygen, improves aerobic capacity and releases muscle tension. Crooning the short-e sound, as in echo, stimulates the thyroid gland, which secretes hormones that control the speed which digestion and other bodily processes occur. Making the long-o sound, as in ocean, fuels the pancreas, which regulates blood sugar.
2. Offers therapeutic benefits
Singing takes away your woes. Simply choose a favourite song and sing it over a minus one or online karaoke. Doing this will bring back a lot of happy memories spent with family or friends, helping you feel calmer. When you sing your heart out, you are taking your mind off the stresses of the day, and you instantly find yourself in a more stable emotional state.
A free singing tutorial is highly advisable as it will help you gain additional technical knowledge about singing and honing your vocal cords at the same time.
3. Re-energises the body and more
Singing exercises the vocal cords and keeps them youthful, even in old age. The less age-battered your voice sounds, the more you will feel, and seem, younger. When you break into song, your chest expands and your back and shoulders straighten, thus improving your posture. Singing also releases pain-relieving endorphins. Additionally, as you sing along, your circulation is improved, which in turn oxygenates the cells and boosts the body’s immune system to ward off minor infections. Another advantage is singing provides some aerobic exercise for the elderly or disabled.
4. Strengthens the immune system
Singing fortifies the immune system, according to research by scientists at the University of Frankfurt in Germany, which was published in the latest edition of the US Journal of Behavioral Medicine. The scientists tested the blood of people who sang in a professional choir in the city, before and after a 60-minute rehearsal of Mozart’s Requiem. They found that concentrations of immunoglobulin A, proteins in the immune system that function as antibodies, and hydrocortisone, an anti-stress hormone, increased significantly during the rehearsal
To strengthen immunity, sing the double-o sound, as in a tool. This activates the spleen, which regulates the production of infection fighting white blood cells.
5. Works as an anti-depressant
Sound vibrations massage your aura, going straight to what’s out of balance and fixing it. Singing the short-a sound, as in ahh, for two-three minutes will help banish the blues. It forces oxygen into the blood, which signals the brain to release mood-lifting endorphins.
6. A nighttime aid
Singing can help strengthen throat and palate muscles, which helps stop snoring and sleep apnea. If you’re familiar with these ailments, you know how difficult it can be to get a good night’s sleep!
7. Improves mental alertness
Improved blood circulation and an oxygenated blood stream allow more oxygen to reach the brain. This improves mental alertness, concentration and memory. The Alzheimer’s Society has even established a “Singing for the Brain” service to help people with dementia and Alzheimer’s maintain their memories.
To boost alertness, make the long-e sound, as in emit. It stimulates the pineal gland, which controls the body’s biological clock.
8. Boosts confidence and communications skills
Singing to babies helps prepare their brains for language. Music is just as important as teaching reading and writing at a young age to prevent language problems later in life. And if you enjoy writing your own lyrics, honing this talent can improve your ability to communicate in different ways!
9. A socialising tool
Whether you’re in a choir or simply enjoy singing karaoke with your friends, one of the unexpected health benefits of singing is that it can improve your social life. The bonds you form with others can be profound, since there’s a level of intimacy naturally involved.
Since we are on a lockdown, trying an online karaoke competition with your friends could be a fun and rewarding way to spend the weekend.
Tune in to Schweiger’s Instagram account, @bettina_soprano, on Mondays at 4 p.m. and Thursdays at 8 p.m. for some singing action.