Choral singing 'as healthy as yoga', say researchers

If the gym's not your thing and yoga's not for you, then it could be worth joining a local choir to look after your health. According to a new study, choral singing helps to ease stress, and help to keep your ticker in good nick.

Choral singing 'good for your health'

Pic: Getty

A team of researchers at Sweden's University of Gothenburg asked a group of 18-year-olds to perform three choral exercises, including monotone humming, a well-know hymn, and chanting a slow mantra.

Monitoring the heart rhythm of each throughout the exercises, the scientists found that melody and structure were directly linked to cardiac activity, with heartbeats synchronising and pulses increasing or decreasing in unison.

Further more, the breathing required to sing long phrases achieved a similar affect to those exercises more commonly associated with yoga.

Study leader Dr Bjorn Vickhoff explained: "Singing regulates activity in the so-called vagus nerve, which is involved in our emotional life and our communication with others and which, for example, affects our vocal timbre.

"Songs with long phrases achieve the same effect as breathing exercises in yoga. In other words, through song we can exercise a certain control over mental states."

The researchers also found that the regular breathing patterns and feeling of calm singers experienced when performing as part of a choir led to a dramatic effect on heart rate variability.

According to the Daily Express, Dr Vickhoff added: "Our hypothesis is that song is a form of regular, controlled breathing... We already know that choral singing synchronises the singers' muscular movements and neural activities in large part of the body.

"Now we also know that this applies to the heart, to a large extent."

Do you regularly sing in a choir? Do you believe it's good for your physical and mental wellbeing? Leave your comments below...