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Even if you don’t have a lot of musical talent, you probably find yourself singing along to songs on the radio while driving with friends or at concerts with everyone else in the audience. It turns out that singing along with other people might actually have health benefits. This is good news as we head through the holiday season – there’s no way to get out of singing along to “All I Want for Christmas Is You” tbh.
There’s a pretty clear through-line when it comes to how singing together is good for social health. Since prehistoric times, humans have come together to sing, a practice that has helped us build bonds and grow communities. Singing together also releases endorphins, so it’s also a mental health booster.
“Increasing evidence suggests that our social connections can play a vital role in maintaining our health – a good social network, for example, can have more health benefits than giving up smoking,” says Jacques Launay, a Postdoctoral Researcher in Experimental Psychology at Oxford. “So it’s possible that singing can improve health by expanding our social group.”
According to UC Berkeley psychology professor Dr. Dacher Keltner, group singing has a lot of potential benefits that might surprise you. “It can support your immune system and memory,” he says. “It can trigger a release of dopamine. It helps your body relax. One study, and get this, even found that people who sing in a choir tend to snore less.” Along with those perks, studies have also found singing to help prompt memory for people with dementia, build lung capacity and even relieve postpartum depression.
In a research project launched a few years back called the “Sing with Us” study, researchers took saliva samplers from 193 choir-goers. Based on these samples, the scientists were able to link group-singing practices to reduced stress hormones and a boost in cytokines, which are proteins that are known for helping our bodies fight illness. There’s also other evidence that points to singing helping your immune system in other ways, for example, by reducing stress, lowering the cortisol hormone and building up certain antibodies.
So there’s just one more reason to go out and do a little caroling this year!