Singing in Choir Reduces Stress

A member of our Stress Management Institute® Advisory Board, Associate Professor Sinan Ali, sent me his comments below about our 28 February blog, Does Music Reduce Stress.

Professor Ali is a leading world expert in the field of cortisol, and I felt his story below is a very powerful and practical example of how past-times that create joy for people can also be very life-enhancing and support our wellbeing physically, mentally and emotionally.

Cortisol is a very critical hormone for us as it can be life-enhancing if guided to support us or it can be life depleting if over secreted.

In November 2019 the Mayo Clinic stated that the longterm activation of the fight or flight system causes cortisol to flood our bloodstream, disrupting important bodily functions. Over time, sufferers may endure digestive problems, weight gain, and even heart disease.

“Great comments John.  And I concur with your statement that music is a powerful de-stressor. I’ll relate to you my results of how bad stress can be converted into good stress in a very simple way.

Many years ago, when I was a faculty member at Macquarie University in Sydney, I was commissioned by the show “What’s Good for You” running on Channel 9 to look at the health benefits of singing.  I chose to do a study with the Macquarie University Choir and looked at both cortisol as a marker of stress and secretory IgA as a marker of immunity before and after a 2-hour rehearsal session.

The experiment was done at the end of the University day when cortisol levels are at their highest.

Although the study cannot be considered to be very scientific in nature as there were lack of controls and cross over etc, the results none the less were very encouraging.   To my amazement, there was a greater than 40% decrease in salivary cortisol post-rehearsal (anything up to 25-30% is considered a great result) and 15% increase in IgA (figures are from memory but accurate to the best of my knowledge).  The increase in IgA was just starting so I presume if we had sampled a few hours later, we would have seen a greater increase.

What is amazing is that all but 1 individual from 20 showed improvement.

Channel 9 gave us our 20 seconds of fame by rolling the story together with more theoretical/sociological aspects why music might be good for us from an interview with a Professor of Music from the University of Sydney.

We didn’t publish the data as such, but I still have the pre and post-test results in my books.

Cheers and keep up the great work that you do for all of us.”


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