Research has found that singing in a choir may enhance mental and emotional well-being and social connections. In fact, group singing isn't just beneficial for one's well-being. It may also help people recover from several mental illnesses like depression and anxiety, according to a 2017 study.
The University of East Anglia studied groups for six months who sang in weekly workshops and found that the mixture of singing and socializing improved people's sense of belonging and well-being.
“For some it represented one component of a wider program of support," said researcher professor Tom Shakespeare. "For others it stood out as key to their recovery or maintenance of health."
Group singing can have a positive influence on one's physical health as well.
Researchers in Sweden found that singing improved heart health; they noted that the heart rates of singers slowly became synchronized, eventually beating as one. It doesn’t get much more poetic that that.
Singing may also help you live longer
A 2013 study conducted at the University of California San Francisco hoped to determine if singing can actually lead to a longer, healthier life.
The researchers created 12 new choirs in senior centers across the bay area. Singing volunteers were all tested for things like balance and leg strength before the program began, and will be tested again at the end.
Among other things, researchers for the UCSF study explained that singing seems to be good for balance.
"Older adults who sing in a choir actually fall less and could potentially have stronger lower body strength," said Julene Johnson, UCSF Institute for Health and Aging.
As well, exercising the vocal chords can be good for the lungs.
"Up to maybe 30 percent of older adults complain of having shortness of breath, so it is possible that singing in a choir can help work the respiratory system and help improve breathing," said Johnson.
Famed English musician, composer, record producer and singer Brian Eno has weighed in on the topic already. Having started an a cappella group with friends and finding immeasurable benefit from it, Eno wrote in an essay for NPR, “A recent long-term study conducted in Scandinavia sought to discover which activities related to a healthy and happy later life. Three stood out: camping, dancing and singing.”
He added, “I believe that singing is the key to long life, a good figure, a stable temperament, increased intelligence, new friends, super self-confidence, heightened sexual attractiveness and a better sense of humor.”
Promptly direct us to the choir, please.
The AP's Haven Daley reports on the study in the video below:
Editor's Note: This story has been updated since it was originally published in October 2013.