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Sing for Your Health!

Sing for Your Health!

Seven-time Grammy Award winner Gladys Knight first recorded “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” in 1967. Since those early days, the indefatigable Ms. Knight has been singing on stage (and in her local choir) for over 50 years. Guess it agrees with her (and us too). And guess what else? Research on the biological effects of music and singing shows just how good belting out a song is for everyone.

Researchers from the U.K. measured the biological effects of singing on three groups of cancer patients and their caretakers: 72 were current caregivers; 66 were past caregivers of deceased cancer patients; and 55 were current cancer patients. All were regular participants in their local choirs. Researchers took saliva samples to measure choir members’ levels of the stress hormone cortisol, pain suppressing beta-endorphins, the love hormone oxytocin and immune system markers. They also visually assessed mood and stress.

The results? The researchers found that singing with a group (and group is key) once a week for 70 minutes resulted in reduced cortisol levels, positive immune responses and improved mood.

So raise your voice high in a local singing group or plan for regular family sing-alongs (can you Karaoke?). And if you’re, well, not too melodically inclined, don’t worry. The researchers point out that many communal activities can provide the same health-boosting rewards for body and soul. So get out there (on or off key), because when you join a community group you’ll be humming along toward a younger Real Age.

Medically reviewed in November 2018.

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