Exercising Joy

Exercise and Joy are not two words I typically put together in the same sentence.  

In fact, since returning from vacation, the only participation in physical activity that I seem to engage in has been from the comfort of my own couch - watching others sweat during American Ninja Warrior.  I know - so sad, but true. 

As I thought a little further about the subject, I realized that perhaps I actually do have an exercise routine.  And it just may be the best kept joy-filled secret health regime ever.

You will not likely hear about this from any trendy health programs, books or blogs.  This is something that any age or ability (non-athletic person like myself) can do and it is seriously a blast...

Wait for it... 

Sing!  More specifically - join a choir!

Yes -- I fully acknowledge that I am biased...but hear me out!
Author and choral member, Stacy Horn, uses the term, "exercising joy" to describe her weekly routine of getting out of the house to sing with her local amateur choir.  She claims "you can't reach heights like this singing alone in the shower."  Stacy shares the story of how her own happiness increased once she joined her local church choir.

Like Stacy, if you are looking to improve your health or desire to increase your joy - may I suggest you warm up your vocal chords and join a choir.

The Fountain of Youth
Those who are said to age well are people who continue to grow, learn and create.  Choral singing provides a creative environment to develop new skills as people learn harmonies, technique and memorization.  So if you want the secret to staying young, I say - skip the expensive wrinkle cream and join a choir!

Boost Your Brain
There is now scientific evidence to prove that singing has a positive impact on the brain.  The hormones that are released through the physical activity of singing actually help to lower anxiety, depression and reduce stress.  Who doesn't want that?

Here are some of the other benefits of singing in a choir that I came across in a Chorus Impact study.

Civic Leadership
According to the study, choral members scored high on participation in civic leadership.  Choir members were more likely than other groups to volunteer or contribute to philanthropic or political causes. They were found to be strong supporters of performing arts in their own local communities.  As I researched further I even found one article that linked choral singing to higher emotional intelligence scores - how cool is that!

The chorus impact study also revealed high scores in being willing to explore areas outside of musical expertise.  This suggests that choral members experience increased confidence, flexibility and adaptability to change and trying new things.  

Fostering Unity
Choral work teaches people to work together as a team. Singing in groups helps to cultivate a listening ear and heart.  To sing as one voice you first have to learn to listen to all the other parts around you.  What a powerful life lesson!

Restore Your Soul
I admit there have been rehearsals where I begrudgingly dragged myself out to choir after a long day at work. However, after I started singing a strange thing happened.   I forgot about myself and my problems.   My disposition changed and my mood lifted.  I became attentive to God instead of consumed with things I couldn't change about the state of my own circumstances. 

I have seen this physical transformation first hand as I watch those I lead during rehearsal.  Some come to choir drained, quiet and with an unspoken weight on their shoulders.  As we begin to sing I notice their energy increase, they sit up a little taller, start to smile and end up leaving practice happier than when they first arrived.

As we learn to empty and surrender ourselves together in worship this enables God to fill the recesses of our hearts with the joy of His fullness. 

I see why Saul called David to play the harp for him when He was suffering in spirit.  Music is a powerful healing force.  Music reaches into the depths of our hearts to restore and allow truth to be heard.  Music quiets the soul placing us in the position to hear and respond to God.

Building Community
There are many people who suffer from depression, loneliness or are simply seeking a place to belong.  We learn to love each other as we grieve, rejoice, intercede, extend hospitality, patience and grace through the fellowship in this unique musical community.  God has certainly used my own church choir family to reveal the gift and beauty of living out the gospel in community - for which I am deeply grateful.  

Created In His Image!
I love the verse from Zephaniah 3:17 that reminds us that God rejoices over us with singing!  If God delights to sing over us and we are created in His image - then I believe we are also designed to sing!  We are wired to minister to Him in song and to also sing over His beloved.  Singing is built into our DNA.

We may not all be skilled and talented musicians.  In fact, the musical ability and performance is not the central priority.  God calls us to praise, to sing and testify to who He is, what He has done and who we are in Him.  We are to edify and encourage one another in song.  In the Bible, it is the choir (not the soloist) that leads the people into victory (2 Chronicles 20:21).  There appears to be strength in numbers.  

Carol Cymbala, author and conductor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, beautifully articulates the ministry of a choir, 

"to lead others into an encounter with Jesus
...and when our lives match the lyrics
 then we are truly singing."

Above all the other benefits ... singing makes God happy.  I believe when we delight God by learning to minister and worship Him together in song, we in turn discover true joy.  It is not a fleeting happiness, but an authentic lasting joy.

So get your comfy yoga pants on, grab your unsalted almonds and green juice and join your local choir to exercise your way to joy! 



  1. Very creative exercising Nicole! :)

  2. Belinda - that is a kind way of putting it.... ha ha! There is a blog called lazy genius and I guess I took that inspiration too literal when writing this post! Now back to some other physical exercise this weekend as I already got my exercising joy work out last night at choir!

  3. Haha "comfy yoga pants, unsalted almonds and green juice" - too good! Haha. Great post Nicole!

    -j nip (the female one, haha)

  4. Haha "comfy yoga pants, unsalted almonds and green juice" - too good! Haha. Great post Nicole!

    -j nip (the female one, haha)


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