Are you still singing Lynyrd Skynryd songs from last month’s Ribfest? Is “Sweet Home Alabama” still on your mind? If so, keep on singing – it can actually be healthy!
“Studies have linked singing with a lower heart rate, decreased blood pressure, and reduced stress,” according to music therapist Patricia Preston-Roberts (www.SixWise.com).
“Singing also seems to block a lot of neural pathways that pain travels through,” Preston-Roberts commented. She uses song to help patients who suffer from a variety of psychological and physiological conditions.
Dr. Ben Kim agrees, pinpointing the impact on our immune system. He writes that we need to sing “from our belly.” And, “Do your health a favor and belt out a few tunes on a regular basis. Your immune system will thank you for it.” (http://drbenkim.com/articles-singing-for-health.htm).
When it comes to older adults, “Singing, particularly in a chorus, seems to benefit the elderly particularly well,” according to Dr. Gene D. Cohen, director of the Center on Aging, Health, and Humanities at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. “The fact that there was so much improvement in many areas [including easier breathing, feeling better in daily life and better speaking quality] was the surprise factor,” Cohen commented.
Many of us love to sing. Not because we think clinically about the health benefits but just because it makes us feel good. “I don’t sing because I am happy”, noted philosopher and psychologist (who also trained as a physician) William James stated, “I’m happy because I sing!”
Singing is a way to express gratitude, love, and joy – key elements to developing a greater spirituality and, it seems, better health. Singing hymns and spiritual songs have given individuals strength and courage – qualities that can diminish anxiety and fear, and thus improve our mental health. “Sing to the Lord”, the Bible exhorts many times, and I have often found that following that directive has often helped me to overcome pain and feel better.
So come on Naperville, start singing! Join a choir, pull out those old cassettes and 8 tracks, grab a CD, download your ipod, and exercise those vocal chords!