It is well-known that singing can help lift your mood, but it may be more surprising to hear that singing in a choir could be more beneficial to your mental health than cycling or dancing. That is according to a study involving the world's largest contemporary choir.

Caroline Redman Lusher, award-wining singer and creator of Rock Choir sings praise to the mental health and wellbeing benefits of singing in a group and believes we should all be reaping the benefits.

How Rock Choir started

The singer grew Rock Choir up from 100 members in her hometown of Farnham, Surrey in 2005 to now over 33,000 members across the UK including in Oxfordshire.

In the contemporary choir's early days, Mrs Lusher was contacted by people across the country asking her to set a Rock Choir up in their area.

Mrs Lusher, who used to be an A-level teacher, said: "Back then there was nothing else like it, it was simple there was no need to read music and there was no need to audition, it was all about the delivery of the music and building confidence very quickly."

She added: "I transferred a lot of skills I learnt in my five years as an A-level teacher into the concept of Rock Choir, and it worked, and I have not looked back."

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On Saturday Rock Choir members from Wantage, Oxford, Abingdon, Didcot and Witney gathered under one roof, at The Beacon in Wantage, for a huge choir practice.

The 'rockies' were very excited to be back to physical rehearsals and filled the room with the sound of hit songs.

Mrs Lusher attended the 'big sing' and thanked the singers for their loyalty and support throughout lockdown.

The benefits

For almost 17 years 'rockies' have been feeling the joy that singing in a group can bring, but many did not realise it was better than exercise.

The Rock Choir founder is a firm believer that singing can lift someone's mood.

Mrs Lusher said: "Singing helps people experience a nicer, calmer lifestyle."

However, this belief is in fact based on science.

The science 

In a BBC documentary with presenter Dr Michael Mosley, singers in Rock Choir were tested up against people cycling and dancing.

The study focused on a chemical released in the brain called endocannabinoid, which is the body’s natural high, to see which activity made people feel the best.

The results surprisingly revealed that singing in a choir releases 20 per cent more of the brains natural high than cycling and dancing.

Mrs Lusher said: "We all knew there was a natural high, but we didn't know the actual science."

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The health and wellbeing benefits of singing do not just come from one genre, every group from Rock Choir to classical singers can feel the positive energy of being in a choir.

The Rock Choir founder even goes as far as to say that singing could be prescribed as a form of anti-depressants.

Mrs Lusher said: "That natural happiness and joy they experience then allows people to go on and deal with their lives and personal issues in a much more positive way."

She added: "Instead of somebody possibly taking anti-depressants there are other options and Rock Choir is one of them."

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Experience the choir

Experienced and rookie singers from across the country can join Rock Choir.

The group has choirs in Oxfordshire open for people to try and on the first day people are not even expected to sing, but simply come to "experience" the choir.

Mrs Lusher said: "I am always grateful; I never take it for granted when somebody plucks up the courage to walk into that rehearsal room."

Fees for the choir cost £100 per academic term. To join visit and find your closest group.

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