A Review of the Physiological Effects and Mechanisms of Singing

J Voice. 2018 Jul;32(4):390-395. doi: 10.1016/j.jvoice.2017.07.008. Epub 2017 Aug 18.


Daily experience suggests that singing can energize us and even provide a physical workout. A growing amount of evidence has been presented to support anecdotal claims of the benefits of singing on health and well-being. Singing has been shown to be related to numerous physiological changes. The cardiorespiratory system is utilized during persistent singing training, resulting in enhanced respiratory muscles and an optimized breathing mode. In addition, singing can also cause changes in neurotransmitters and hormones, including the upregulation of oxytocin, immunoglobulin A, and endorphins, which improves immune function and increases feelings of happiness. This review is organized by respiratory, circulatory, and hormonal changes that are collectively a part of singing in a healthy population. The various studies are discussed with the intention of helping researchers and clinicians realize the potential benefit of singing and provide a clinical option as an adjunct therapy for a given situation. Better understanding of physiological mechanisms will lay a solid theoretical foundation for singing activities and will present important implications for further study. Evaluations of existing research and recommendations for future research are given to promote the scale and duration to better demonstrate the effectiveness of singing before it can be recommended in clinical guidelines and satisfy criteria for funding by commissioners of health and social care.

Keywords: Health; Hormones; Mechanism; Physiological effects; Singing.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Health Status
  • Hemodynamics
  • Hormones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Larynx / physiology*
  • Lung / physiology*
  • Mental Health
  • Music Therapy / methods*
  • Neuropeptides / metabolism
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Respiratory Mechanics
  • Respiratory Muscles / physiology*
  • Singing*
  • Social Behavior


  • Hormones
  • Neuropeptides