Singing in choir helps improve well-being (Southern Arkansas University/Flickr)

New research from the Oxford Brookes University in the UK says that singing in choir helps improve mental health.

For the online study, researchers selected 375 people - both men (178) and women (197), mainly singers and sports people. Singers belonged to two groups, those who either performed alone or in a choir. During the study, participants provided information about their activities and narrated their experiences related to them. 

Engaging in both singing and sports activities were positively associated with well-being. However, singing in choir helped improve mood better than the other two activities.

"Research has already suggested that joining a choir could be a cost-effective way to improve people's well-being. Yet we know surprisingly little about how the well-being effects of choral singing are brought about," Nick Stewart, who conducted the study, said in a news release. "These findings suggest that the experience of using your voice to make music may be enhanced when you feel part of a cohesive social group."

The choral singers' attitude towards their group was also worth noticing. Majority of the participants who sang in choir viewed their group as "meaningful" or coherent than the sports persons.

"The implications may be that any activity we do as part of a group is particularly enjoyable", Stewart told The Telegraph. "But people who sang in a choir had a stronger sense of being part of a meaningful group and there is a suggestion that there is something unique about the synchronicity of moving and breathing with other people."

Findings were presented at the Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society's Division of Clinical Psychology (DCP) in York.

The findings strengthen countless studies in the past that showed health benefits of performing in groups. An American study released in November reported that participating in regular singing sessions helped improve brain function in Alzheimer's patients. Swedish researchers from the University of Gothenburg reported in July that choir singing helped synchronise heartbeats, further helping to achieve a calming effect. Research has also shown that choir singing can help fight stress.