Singing as Exercise

Last week, we spoke about how exercise can help us develop as singers, this week we’re going to look at the other side, how singing can contribute to an exercise programme. Now, this isn’t to say you should ditch the gym membership and only come to choir. Singing, while great, can’t replace exercise but it does have proven physical benefits.

1. Burn Calories

The average person can expect to burn about 140-200 calories an hour while singing. This puts it at about half the effect of a comfortable bike ride, or the same as a long walk.

Not all of us can get out on our bikes, and the weather isn’t always right for a walk but singing is a way to get that same effect, and it can be a lot more fun!

2. Build Chest Muscles

A 1986 study found that frequent singers showed stronger muscles around the chest wall, and that their hearts beat better.

It was also show that lung capacity was maintained in older study participants, a feature that usually decreases with age.

3. Work the Core

A recent study looking at singers showed that singing with proper technique can target a wide range of muscle groups, including the oblique abdominals.

The study concluded that these muscles are important in the expression of pressure in activities such as singing, as such professional singers, or those with training such as choir members, activate these muscles more than untrained singers would. In particular, while taking deeper breaths, the lower abs are activated more efficiently, the muscles developed during exercises such as planking.

While these are all cool benefits, perhaps the most important factor is that singing is inherently enjoyable. Research in Frontiers in Psychology suggests that the most important factor in long term physical well-being is finding exercise you enjoy. This enables us to stick to a regime for longer (50% of people stop going to the gym after 6 months) and hopefully, by tying everything to singing we’ve given you that much needed motivation.

Of course, singing isn’t the solution to everything (but it would be great if it was!) Obviously, if you want to be a professional runner, singing is probably less important than running but doing them both together can take you even further.