State of Mind Sport are always exploring different ways to improve your mental fitness

Today we are looking at the benefits of singing in a choir

Singing in a choir is beneficial in a number of different ways.

Singing in groups helps to forge social bonds, it also does so particularly quickly, acting as an excellent icebreaker.

Community singing is effective for bonding large groups, making it an ideal behaviour to improve our broader social networks.

Singing in a choir can boost your mental health, researchers carried out an online survey of 375 people who sang in choirs, sang alone, or played team sports. All three activities produced high levels of psychological well-being – but singers stood out as experiencing the greatest benefit.

The findings could help develop low cost treatment to improve people’s well-being, compared with the way sports players regarded their teams, choir singers also viewed their choirs as more coherent or “meaningful”. These findings suggest that feeling part of a cohesive social group can add to the experience of using your voice to make music.

Swedish research has suggested that it not only increases oxygen levels in the blood but triggers the release of “happy” hormones such as oxytocin, which is thought to help lower stress levels and blood pressure.

A year-long study on people with mental health problems, carried out by the Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health, Canterbury, has also shown the some 60 per cent of participants had less mental distress when retested a year after joining, with some people no longer fulfilling diagnostic criteria for clinical depression. “singing in a group gives us something that we have lost as a society”.
Image courtesy of Louise Woodward Styles

Benefits of choral singing for social and mental wellbeing: qualitative findings from a cross‐national survey of choir members Laetitia Livesey (Journal of Public Health) – The results indicate that benefits of singing may be experienced similarly irrespective of age, gender, nationality or wellbeing status.

A choir of fans was put together in 2016 via Songs of Praise and sang at the 2016 Challenge Cup Final.

The choir was led by Beracah Music’s Steve Thompson who was on hand to guide the singers and State of Mind Sport are teaming up with Steve in the near future for an exciting musical project alongside some of members of the original fans choir. Picture above from left to right Owen Cotterell (State of Mind Sport Trustee), Steve Thompson (Beracah Music) and Dr. Phil Cooper MBE (State of Mind Sport Trustee)

Summary of benefits of singing in a group

Physical improvements include exercising the lungs and tones the intercostal muscles and diaphragm, improves sleep, aerobic capacity with benefits for the heart and circulation, decreases muscle tension, improves posture and improves mental alertness, opens sinuses and respiratory tubes, releases pain reducing endorphins, boosts immune system, reduce anger, anxiety and depression.

Emotional wellbeing improvements include increased self-esteem and confidence, feelings of well-being, enhances mood, reduces stress, is spiritually uplifting, increases positive feelings, encourages creativity, and increases empathy between cultures.