Can You Lose Weight By Singing? Is Singing Healthy For You?Devlon Jarrod Horne
I’ve been singing for many years and I’ve never noticed any change in my weight as a by-product of singing. Students of mine do often ask my if they are able to lose weight from singing so I decided to write this article and get the facts about singing, exercise, how many calories you can burn from singing and if you can actually lose weight from it
Sing burns about 140 calories per hour. The average adult males’ calorie intake is 2000 – 3000 calories a day. An average adult female’s calorie intake is between 1600 – 2400 calories a day. In that regard, it is almost impossible to lose weight from singing. However, singing does have other health benefits such as stress relief, boosting the immune system, and cognitive benefits.
On my mission to see if singing could actually make you lose weight, I came across incredible health benefits that singing provides. I also came across all the facts needed in order to put singing to the test in terms of it being a legitimate exercise. I went to Alleysway Gym in Bedfordview, Johannesburg, and spoke to Victor Alley the owner, professional bodybuilding coach of IFBB professionals, and former Vice President of NABBA SA about exercise and if singing could actually cause someone to lose weight.
Can you lose weight by singing?
“The short answer is no”. “you would have to be singing and running on the treadmill at the same time in order for that to happen… common Dev you should already know this” Those are the words of Vic. Now a part of me already knew this but I wanted to get a legitimate and credible source so the readers out there did not pull me apart limb from limb and say it could be done.
You need to burn more calories a day than that of what you take in because you need to burn the stored energy (fat) on your body in order to lose weight with exercise. That is how it is done and singing just can’t do this. Well, not in the scope of proper weight loss. It does burn calories and has health benefits but in terms of a legitimate exercise in order to lose weight. It just isn’t, but let’s look a little deeper.
Is singing exercise?
Well, first we have to define what exercise is exactly. According to the Oxford dictionary, exercise is an activity requiring physical effort, carried out to sustain or improve health and fitness. With this definition, singing could and does fall into the first part of the definition.
Singing does require physical effort; however, does singing require so much effort that it improves your health and fitness? What are the criteria for exercise that makes it suitable to increase your health and fitness?
Vic told me that exercise has to work your cardiovascular system, which includes your heart and your lungs, and then it has to work some form of a muscle group whether it is a major or minor muscle group. By exercising the muscles, we inadvertently need to send them energy and oxygen which they receive from the blood. The blood in turn pulses through the body and gets deoxygenated by the muscles which are being worked. Then, the blood being pumped by the heart goes back to the lungs in order to get more oxygen and repeat the process again.
Vic also said that the heart has to work at around 70% of its maximum rate for something to be considered an exercise. So, you can’t sit and eat your Cheetos moving your arm up and down and consider that to be exercise. You have to work your muscles.
So, can we classify singing as an exercise? If a singer was running up and down the stage then in that respect, we could perhaps classify it as exercise. However, the main muscles that singing uses are the diaphragm, abdominals, and the muscles surrounding the larynx. Singing does require the use of the lungs obviously but to the degree in which we classify exercise it is not. With that knowledge, it is more than likely that singing would not fall into the category of exercise.
However, singing does burn energy (calories), and all you need to do is burn calories to lose weight, it doesn’t necessarily mean that losing weight requires exercise. so how many calories does it burn and how many calories do we need to burn in order to lose weight.
Then just because singing cant be classified as an exercise there must be some health aspects to it, right?
Is singing healthy for you?
Even though we could not really classify singing as an exercise. Perhaps if you’re doing it for 4 or 5 hours a day then yes, we can. Nevertheless, singing does have some crazy health benefits and I listed them for you below.
12 health benefits of singing
Singing lowers your stress levels
Creating music in any form can alleviate stress and especially with singing. When you breathe in and out during passages and phrases this emulates slow breathing, which is used for relaxation. This in turn lowers the hormone cortisol (which is a stress hormone) in your bloodstream. “Embrace the joy of singing and watch as it lifts your spirits, makes you laugh, eases your tension, and makes you feel great overall” is what Cassandra Claude from Healthy Magazine has to say about singing. Read that article from Healthy Magazine.
Singing helps you to sleep
Researches found that singing can actually help with sleep apnea according to online articles and research which was done by Alise Ojay, who is a drama therapist from the University of New York. She conducted an experiment called “sleeping for snorers” and found that singing strengthens the throat and palate muscles and this in turn helps people to sleep better. Here is an article by Medical News Today that talks about how singing can help with sleep.
Singing is an anti-depressant (releases endorphins and oxytocin)
Research has shown that singing releases endorphins and oxytocin. These hormones are the “feel good” hormones and they help to alleviate the feelings of depression and loneliness. Singing in groups has a calming yet energizing effect on people. Here is an article from The Times explaining how singing changes your brain.
Singing makes improves cognition (memory and alertness)
Research has shown that singing can indeed help with cognition especially for people with dementia and Alzheimers. Singing for the Brain was established by the Alzheimers’ Society all the way back in 2003, and it encouraged participation and facilitated the learning of new songs. You can read more about that in this article by the National Library of Medicine.
Singing lowers your blood pressure
A study at Harvard reveals that singing can lower your blood pressure even when medication fails to do so. A 76-year-old woman with hypertension and osteoarthritis was chosen for the study. Her blood pressure was dangerously high and medication would not bring it down. The patient sang 6 hymns and her blood pressure dropped 30 points. You can read more about that from this article by The Star.
Singing increases your lung capacity
A study was done where 43 patients took 24 singing classes. They performed spirometry and completed maximal respiratory pressure measurements, evaluations of dyspnea, and the Saint George’s Respiratory Questionnaire, before and after 24 training classes. What they found was that the singing was a well-tolerated activity for people with COPD and that it may improve QoL. You can read that from this article by the National Library of Medicine.
Singing develops better posture
In order to sing better, there are certain techniques that you have to learn and one of them is that you need to use the full capacity of your lungs and breath from your diaphragm expanding your ribcage when you do so. In order to do this properly your back has to be straight. Practicing this technique while singing for extended periods of time will over time improve your posture overall.
Singing Strengthens the immune system
A study by Tenovus Cancer Care and the Royal College of Music has shown that singing in a choir for just one hour boosts levels of immune proteins in people affected by cancer. It also improves their mood and reduces their stress levels. You can read that from this article by Science Daily.
Singing helps you live longer
Researches at Harvard and Yale have backed up claims that singing increases life expectancy. The joint university study examined the population of New Haven, Connecticut, and found that a healthier heart and a better overall mental state resulted from choral singing. The corresponding effect was that the residents were living longer. Read more from that article by The Brag.
Singing tones certain muscles and can make you look younger and feel healthier
An article written by Dr. James Le Fanu suggests that singing uses almost all the muscles in the face and others as well. This results in one looking younger and feeling healthier because it not only strengthens the muscles in the face, throat, and the diaphragm but also improves one’s mood and state of mind. Read Dr. Le Fanu’s article from The Telegraph.
Singing boosts your confidence
If you are a singer then you know that singing makes you feel great and by any respect boosts your confidence. It sure does so for me. Confidence is not something you have it is something you learn and singing can help you with that. Read Kathryn Wind’s article on How To Overcome Confidence Issues With Singing.
Singing provides a sense of purpose
Singing together with people in a group or choir can provide a sense of purpose and happiness. “group singing gives us a sense of belonging”, this is what Goldsmiths University of London students who are studying the benefits of singing suggests. Read that article on Why Does Singing Make Us Feel Good?
So even though singing is not really classified as a form of exercise in the respects of traditional exercise. It does have huge health benefits. Let’s move on to how many calories does singing actually burn. Then at least we can come to a conclusion if singing can still cause us to lose weight.
Watch this video by Amazing Health Solutions, go over some of the benefits of singing.
How many calories do you burn when singing?
Singing in total burns about 140 calories an hour depending on your size and how much energy you exert while singing.
If your belting hours on end you could burn a significant number of calories but you’d probably throw out your voice and you wouldn’t sing for a while after that. And being logical that just isn’t possible and it is neither a good way to sing or to lose weight.
As I said before, you can burn more calories while singing but more body movement is required and then, singing doesn’t really play a factor in that, because when you’re running up and down the stage how much are you actually singing? Have you ever tried to sprint across a field and then sing afterwards? It’s pretty difficult.
How many calories do you need to burn in order to lose weight?
According to the U.S Department of Health, the average adult woman burns roughly 1600 to 2400 calories a day and the average adult man burns about 2000 to 3000 calories a day. So, what does that mean for singing?
Well, in order to lose weight, you have to burn excess energy that your body stores (fat). So, technically you would have to burn your food consumption in calories plus an extra 200 to 500 calories in order to shed those pounds.
Depending on what you eat you would have to be singing for hours. If you think about it, singing for 10 hours would only burn 1400 calories. Then you would still have to take into consideration what you have eaten for the day adding that to your total singing time. If you eat 1000 calories a day then you would have to be singing for 10 hours and if you eat the recommended calorie intake for an average adult male or female then you would have to be singing for roughly 20 hours a day to shed those pounds. That’s food for thought.
Watch ehowhealth explain how you can cut calories in your diet and increase exercise to lose weight. You burn approximately 100 calories per 1 mile. Take this into consideration that you can run a mile in about 9 minutes whereas it would take an hour of singing to basically do the same thing.
Can weight gain affect your singing?
Your singing voice will be affected by excessive weight gain. When you gain weight the tissue around your throat and chest will increase. You will require more phonation threshold pressure (PTP). This is the amount of air pressure needed to create a note.
There is, however, no evidence to suggest that weight gain is either good or bad for your voice. Some people speculate that it is good because of the fact that if you take a look at opera singers their voices are pleasant and have a nice quality to it.
Can weight loss affect your singing?
As we see with excessive weight gain, more PTP is required to produce a note. This is probably due to the fact that more energy is required to move the diaphragm and the body as a whole. The opposite is true for losing weight. Less PTP will be required because there is less body mass and surrounding tissue that the body has to move in order to produce a note. Hence, it will be easier to sing.
The tone (timbre) of the voice will not change. That is genetic (read my article on – Are Singers Naturally Talented? I go over the genetic factors that play a role in someone learning to sing and having a good singing voice)
In conclusion, singing does burn calories and does use various muscles throughout the body and the lungs to perform its action. In the classical definition of exercise, however, it is not considered to be beneficial enough to increase the physical conditioning of the body.
It does, however, benefit the body in many other healthy ways. These health benefits include the reduction of stress, being able to sleep better, it is an anti-depressant, it boosts your confidence, your immune system and it helps you live longer.
The sad reality is that you would be spending up to 20 hours a day singing in order to lose weight and that is just not possible by any means.