Singing in a choir may have some of the same positive effects as yoga, according to a new study that found the regular breathing patterns required can reduce the variability of your heartbeat.
The researchers say that when people sing in a choir, their heartbeats synchronise so that the pulse of choir members tends to increase and decrease in unison. Not only is reducing the variability of your heartbeat good for your health, but singing can enhance the spirit of cooperation in a group because it helps regulate activity in the vagus nerve, which is linked to emotions and communication with others.
“Songs with long phrases achieve the same effect as breathing exercises in yoga,” says author Björn Vickhoff of Sahlgrenska Academy at University of Gothenburg. “In other words, through a song we can exercise a certain control over mental states.”
The researchers studied the heart rates of fifteen 18-year-old choral singers and arranged for them to perform three different choral exercises: monotone humming, singing a Swedish hymn, as well as the chanting of a slow mantra. The heart rhythm of the choir members was recorded as they performed in each case.
A previous research from earlier this year finds that singing in a choir helps form social bonds, according to researchers from Nord-Trøndelag Health Trust in Norway. A prior UK study reveals that singing can trigger the release of endorphins, which boost your feelings of happiness and pleasure.