Senior citizens belong to a growing group that the U.S. Census Bureau projects will more than double from 43 to 92 million between 2012 and 2060. People 65 and older who were 13.7 percent of the total population will become one in five U.S. residents in less than five decades. If you’re concerned about finding inexpensive, easily accessible ways to enhance your life as you age, multiple studies report that singing creates a harmonious physical and mental balance that can boost your overall health.
Groundbreaking Senior Choir Study
The most cited senior-choir study found that singing reduced participants’ eyesight problems, fall rates, depression and loneliness, which decreased their needs for medical attention, doctor visits and medications. According to 2006 study by author Gene D. Cohen, who was a gerontology expert at George Washington University’s Center for Aging, Health and Humanities, choir members had higher overall physical health ratings. Besides enjoying enhanced daily lives, singers also were more active than control group subjects.
Other Physical Health Advantages of Group Singing
Strength and Toning: Participating in a choral organization improves posture and increases lung capacity while toning your abdominal, intercostal and facial muscles as well as your diaphragm. It clears your sinuses and respiratory tubes while stimulating circulation. Singing makes you breathe more deeply than many forms of strenuous exercise, boosting your oxygen intake, improving your aerobic capacity and releasing muscle tension.
Immune system: Group singing boosts your immune system, which helps fight disease and prolong life expectancy. Research scientists took blood samples from professional choir members before and after a one-hour rehearsal of Mozart’s Requiem. Their comparison noted significant increases in immune system proteins that function as antibodies and an anti-stress hormone after singing. But when the choir listened to a recording of the same piece without singing, their levels rose only slightly. Researchers concluded that singing strengthened members’ immune systems and improved their moods notably. While listening to music can stir your deepest emotions, active participation increases your energy and improves your health.
Vocal cords: Singing exercises your vocal cords and keeps them youthful — even when you’re elderly. The less age-battered your voice sounds, the younger you’ll feel and appear to others.
Recovery and healing: Research on international choirs found they helped some people recover from heart attacks or strokes.
Pain relief: When you sing, endorphins help relieve chronic pain.
Emotional Health and Well-Being Benefits
Neurological functioning: Experiencing music actively increases alertness, concentration, memory, visual and listening skills, spatial orientation and physical coordination. Singing also relieves stress and promotes better sleep.
Self-worth: Singing in an ensemble helps build confidence and self-esteem, which improves your psychological well-being.
Belonging: Committing to attend regular practices and bonding with a group create a support system that makes choral singers happier than non-participants. Belonging to a team that also needs you can help you overcome loneliness.
Enjoyment: Researchers discovered that the sacculus inner ear organ connected to the brain area that registers pleasure responds to common music frequencies. Singing provides immediate delight — even if you’re off key.
Friendships: Group singing widens your circle of friends. Besides sharing a joyful experience with others, socializing together at other times is common.
Social skills: Choral singers benefit from increased poise, more expressive communication and better presentation skills.
Success: Research correlated singing in a community chorus or church choir with greater civic involvement, teamwork and discipline, valuable qualities that support success throughout life.
A great voice and group participation aren’t necessary to reap the many healthy rewards of singing. Research shows that even if you sing out of tune in the shower, flowing emotions release feel-good endorphins that help you look and feel better.
Look younger: Besides strengthening your vocal muscles, singing improves your posture. As your chest expands, your back and shoulders straighten. Singing also tones your stomach and facial muscles. Similar to yoga, singing promotes deep breathing and has a calming effect. Vocal yoga has become an increasingly popular exercise for singers, actors and public speakers. Just replace the normal exhalation of breath with a vocal sound to expand your voice.
Feel younger: A form of engaged learning, singing strengthens concentration, trains your memory and preserves your mental capabilities. Exercising your vocal chords also keeps your voice sounding youthful.
Live longer: Singing improves your heart and lung functions. It pushes more oxygen into your blood stream, stimulates circulation and strengthens upper body muscles. Other health benefits include increased immunity, reduced stress and improved sleep, all of which will promote longevity.
Age Gracefully through Song
If you’re ready to join a singing group, search online for local community choral groups that match your skill level and favorite music styles. Those that require you to read music and audition focus on quality public performances usually. But other organizations and classes accept amateurs with limited vocal abilities who are eager to learn how to sing.
You may prefer to add singing into your daily routine at home. Besides raising your voice in the shower, try singing while cooking, spending time with your grandkids and listening to music. Any type of singing will enrich and extend your healthier life. You also can make the most of your golden years by taking all of your medications on schedule. Whenever you need to fill prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs, choose a trusted online pharmacy.