Did you know that singing in the shower may actually be good for you?
Music is an undeniably powerful force. It has been proven to aid people in many ways, from helping to increase time spent exercising, to impacting heart health and circulation. You can even reap benefits from music by simply singing in the shower, something a lot of us do already.
There are many observed benefits of singing on physical and mental health. The shower is a good place to sing because it takes away the sometimes anxiety raising aspect of an audience. The benefits include:
Dr. Jerry Saliman is a doctor who is retired from the Kaiser Permanente South San Francisco Medical Center. He believes that there are health benefits to singing out loud — particularly for the elderly.
"Studies have shown that singing can improve the brain functionality of seniors suffering from conditions such as aphasia and Parkinson's disease," Saliman wrote. "In addition, many seniors live alone, are limited in mobility due to chronic conditions such as arthritis and are on budgets; finding easy and affordable activities that keep them engaged and connected is beneficial for their emotional well-being."
Saliman also wrote that singing has been found to improve the respiration health and functionality of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and that patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease who sing, report less feelings of breathlessness.
Singing is also good for stress relief. A 2017 study measured the amount of cortisol, the stress hormone, in participant’s saliva before and after they sang. Researchers in the study discovered that the amount of cortisol detected was lower after singing, indicating that the participants felt more relaxed after they’d spent time singing.
There’s a small catch, though: Cortisol only goes down if the singing happens in a place that doesn’t make the singer anxious. A similar 2015 study tested salivary cortisol levels after a singing performance, finding that cortisol levels went up in this scenario. This makes the shower a perfect place to reap the stress relieving benefits of singing, because there is no audience.
A 2004 study compared the results of singing with the results of just listening to music. In two separate sessions, research subjects either sang or listened to music.
The study found evidence that singing may help boost your immune system.
Those who sang had higher levels of immunoglobulin A, an antibody your body secretes to help fend off infections. Listening to music, without singing along, reduces stress hormones but doesn't stimulate the body’s immune system.
Singing releases endorphins, which are a feel good hormone that can even change how you perceive physical pain. Researchers looking into singing and pain thresholds note that singing in social groups increases odds that your pain threshold will be impacted because of the combination of endorphins and the feeling of social connection. Next time you’re getting a shot, bring some friends and sing through the process!
Singing involves breath control and deep breathing, which both activate the muscles in the respiratory system. Practicing breathing techniques with singing can help improve lung function, especially in people with conditions like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, cystic fibrosis, cancer, and more.
Of course, singing itself can’t cure diseases and conditions like these, but using it as a tool to engage respiratory muscles can help strengthen them. Singing also increases the amount of oxygen in your blood, which can help with circulation and even improve mood.
Singing boosts mood and mental health by releasing endorphins. Additionally, singing in a group can be even more beneficial, because you get the endorphins and the rush that comes from feeling like part of a group.
Furthermore, singing has been shown to help people deal with grief. Singing, particularly in a group, has been found to help stabilize the emotions of people who are grieving. Singing is a good activity to pursue if you need additional support while processing grief.
Scientists and researchers have been studying the effects of singing on people with conditions that create speech difficulties for decades. To date, researchers have found compelling evidence suggesting singing can help the speech abilities of people with autism, Parkinson’s disease, aphasia following a stroke, and stuttering.
Singing stimulates multiple areas of the brain at the same time, which can enable people with an impairment in a part of their brain to communicate using other parts of their brain. Singing also prolongs the pronunciation of each syllable in a word, making it easier to break down words and practice pronouncing. Singing can also help teach rhythm, which can be helpful for people learning or relearning how to communicate.
Singing is clearly a powerful tool to use for many different reasons. Whether you are hoping to improve your mental, emotional, or physical health, singing can help. While it obviously does not cure any health ailments, it can certainly improve quality of life and ease symptoms associated with certain conditions. It is also incredibly fun, especially when you are surrounded by close friends, or alone. Who doesn’t love to pretend they’re putting on a concert for an imaginary crowd while they’re in the shower?
Edited by Cara Jernigan on March 6, 2021.