Heart Rate Variability During Choral Singing


  • Erik M.G. Olsson PhD
  • Bo von Schéele PhD
  • Töres Theorell MD, PhD




Contemporary research implies that choral singing is beneficial to health. Singing various kinds of songs with varied emphasis, emotion, and tempo gives rise to diverse physiological responses. Breathing is assumed to be synchronized during choral singing, and breathing has major influence on heart rate variability (HRV). In this study, we compare HRV responses during choral singing with slow breathing exercises. Thirteen amateur singers’ HRV were studied during a rehearsal of 4 songs framed by 2 slow breathing exercises without audience. The heart rate was generally higher and HRV generally lower during singing compared to the slow breathing conditions. During singing, but not during slow breathing, peak HRV frequency showed considerable variation among the participants. This could be due to either a low degree of synchronization of breathing during singing or other factors overruling the effects of breathing on HRV.


Author Biographies

Erik M.G. Olsson, PhD

Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.

Erik M. G. Olsson, PhD, is a researcher at the Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Uppsala University, Sweden.

Bo von Schéele, PhD

Institute for Psychophysiological Behavioral Medicine, Bergvik, Sweden 3School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Ma ̈lardalen University, Västeras, Sweden

Bo von Schéele, PhD, is head of and a researcher at the Institute for Psychophysiological Behavioral Medicine, Bergvik, Sweden, and an Associated Professor at the School of Innovation, Design and Engi- neering,Ma ̈ lardalenUniversity,Västeras,Sweden.

Töres Theorell, MD, PhD

Stress Research Institute, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.

Töres Theorell, MD, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Psychosocial Envi- ronmental Medicine at the Stress Research Institute, Stockholm Uni- versity, Sweden.



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