When 42-year-old Rebecca Gibson gets home from work she likes to belt out a few ’80s classic rock songs. The Newcastle nurse started using a karaoke app this year to improve her health problems, which include systemic lupus and fibromyalgia. “My job is very stressful and I have a lot of illness and trauma to heal,” she says. “Singing calms my system down, especially after work.”

Gibson loves to sing along to powerful female voices with meaningful lyrics. “I don’t think or feel anything but the lyrics and the music, and how it makes me feel emotionally.” She believes her new evening hobby has improved her health and wellbeing. “The vibration of singing gets all your cells buzzing – it’s exercise for your cells – and improves oxygen intake, too. Singing makes me feel alive and pain-free. I breathe better. I hold my posture with more strength. I don’t tend to get flu or chest infections now.”

Health benefits

Mounting research supports what Gibson and many others instinctively know – that singing improves our health. Scientists believe that “feel-good” hormones such as endorphins and oxytocin, linked to social bonding, are responsible.

A study noted in Evolutionary Psychology suggests pain tolerance increases when we sing. According to research in the journal Music Perception, singing also boosts the immune system and, when it’s not related to public performance, reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Other research suggests singing can improve breathing, posture, linguistic ability, children’s reading, dementia and respiratory issues and it’s being investigated as an adjunctive therapy for cancer patients.

– Linda Moon

Read more: The Wellness Benefits of Finding Your Voice Through Singing

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