Can singing regularly improve your breathing and heart health, mood and stress levels, as recent research suggests?
That was the basis of a little two-person experiment called The One Month Tune-Up, in which Kaila from In My Skinny Genes and myself would sing every day during October to see how this habit would affect our health and happiness.
So, how did it go? Well, not exactly as we’d expected.
It’s been sixteen days since Kaila from In My Skinny Genes and I have started The One Month Tune- Up, to see for ourselves whether singing every day during October can boost our health and happiness, as scientific research suggests. So how’s my singing challenge going so far?
To track whether singing regularly can really have a positive impact on our heart rate and stress levels, I’ve been using the free GPS for the Soul app to measure heart rate variability. Heart rate variability refers to the beat-to-beat changes in your heart rate, a good indicator of bodily stress. When you’re healthy, the time gap between your heart beats varies periodically when you’re resting. That’s why a high heart rate variability is considered as a sign of good health, while a decreased heart rate variability is linked to stress, fatigue, and increasing wear and tear.
Now, using an app is not a completely accurate way to measure heart rate variability, I know. ‘Luckily’ I’ve had plenty of medical tests in my life to notice enough similarities between the numbers on my iPad and more reliable measurements in the past.
The good news: My heart rate variability has been ‘in sync’ for the last sixteen days of the One Month Tune-Up. My average heart rate in resting conditions lies between 70 and 80, which is a little higher than the ‘normal’ pulse of 60 to 70 beats per minute reported by the Dutch Heart Foundation. The ‘bad’ news: So far, singing at least one song a day has had no significant effects on my heart rate and (low) stress levels.
Uhm, so does that mean that our little experiment doesn’t have any effects on our health and happiness? Not quite.
To someone like me who loves to sing and could use a health boost, these findings sound impressive. But over the last few years I’ve noticed that as a ‘responsible grown up’ with a never-ending to-do list, I somehow forget to make time to sing on a regular basis, even though it only takes a few minutes to benefit from the practice.
That’s why I jumped at the chance to team up with the lovely Kaila Prins from In My Skinny Genes to get into the singing habit again with the One Month Tune – Up during October!
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