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Does Singing Burn Calories?

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Music Gateway Team


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By Amy Poole

Have you ever wondered how many calories you burn whilst singing, or perhaps you want to calculate it yourself? Hitting the high notes requires a tremendous effort; you’ll likely feel exhausted after a performance.  Singing exerts a lot of energy and it’s hard to sing on pitch if you’re physically unfit, as you need to be able to power your muscles. Here’s how many calories singing burns, followed by a quick calculator equation:

Singing burns around 136 calories per hour, depending on your size and amount of energy you use. Whilst singing you use the abdominal muscles for exhalation and the diaphragm for inhalation, engaging muscles to boost your metabolic rate and burn calories.  

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Singing calories calculator

We don’t have a singing calories calculator as such, but it’s quite a simple equation. Just make sure you have a calculator at hand if your mental arithmetic skills aren’t quite up to scratch. What you need to do is the following calculation:

Hours of singing x 136 = amount of calories burned singing

If you’d like to know even more information about how many calories singing burns, we’ve provided detailed (and fun!) ideas and facts below.

To sing effectively, you need a lot of stamina and technique. With each note you hit, your body uses numerous muscles to aid breathing and produce a tone. Curious about how long you’d have to sing to burn off a slice of pizza? Read on to find out!

You can burn calories singing, here’s how: 

Every person is a different size and puts in a different level of effort when singing, so everyone will burn a different number of calories. Someone who weighs 150 pounds (10.7 stone or 68kg) will burn around 100 calories per hour, sitting down. But, they can increase this total to 180 calories should they move around on stage, whilst entertaining the audience.  

A person who weighs 200 pounds(14.3 stone or 90kg) can burn around 140 calories per hour. Studies have found that the tempo of a song affects our speed and movement. Therefore, if you sing a quicker song, you’re likely to move around more (and faster), so will burn off even more calories during a performance.    

Does losing weight change your singing voice?

A study found that losing weight can affect your singing voice through changes in your phonation threshold pressure (PTP). PTP, in simple terms, is the amount of air pressure needed to create a note when you sing. More pressure is typically required when you haven’t developed or strengthened your vocal folds. Other factors could be external pressure or tension on your vocal folds, as well as inflammation and illness.

Losing weight can be associated with a decrease in PTP, meaning that less air pressure is required to sing. This could lead to more vocal stamina and stronger vocal folds. This could then lead to a whole range of benefits, such as increased vocal agility and control. However, losing too much weight could mean that you aren’t getting enough nutrients to nourish your muscles. It could also lower your physical stamina, which will affect your ability to sing over long periods of time.

Can weight gain affect your singing voice?

Excessive weight gain will affect your singing voice through a build-up of tissue around your larynx, neck and chest. As previously mentioned, losing weight can reduce PTP so gaining weight could increase it. This could be due to the build-up of tissue around your vocal folds. This puts more pressure and tension on them, requiring more energy when you generate the required air pressure to sing.

There are some that use heavy opera singers as an example of positive effects of weight gain on your voice. Although this is purely speculation, some argue that the excess fat can increase the resonance around your larynx, which could generate a more pleasing sound. This could explain why some opera singers are big and heavy, but there isn’t enough scientific evidence to make a great case for it.

Does being overweight affect your voice?

Losing weight will have the biggest effect on your voice if you are obese or significantly overweight. This is because there is more potential for you to reduce pressure on your vocal folds around your neck. If you aren’t overweight or obese then losing weight may not be as effective. However, gaining weight if you are underweight could generally make you healthier, providing you don’t become overweight, and improve your stamina as a singer.

Can losing weight make your singing voice better?

Losing weight has the potential to make your singing voice better. However, losing weight alone isn’t enough. Gaining weight while still practising, warming up and performing will definitely make you a better singer compared to losing weight and doing nothing else. Losing weight might make it easier for your voice to improve more quickly. Your focus should be on regular practise and you should only look at losing weight to improve your general physical health, as opposed to becoming a better singer.

Does body size affect your voice?

The size of your body can affect the way it resonates and burning calories may not necessarily change this. For example, burning calories and losing weight won’t change the size of your vocal cords. Taller people are often associated with deeper voices because they have larger vocal folds and can create a deeper resonance. This isn’t really associated with their weight, just their natural size.

Do you burn calories when you talk?

Talking does burn calories but it won’t be as much as singing. You can expect to burn less than half the amount of calories talking as you would if you were singing. Sitting down and walking will also vary the number of calories you burn. However, because it is such a low number anyway, it won’t make much difference.

You should also consider your style of singing when calculating calories. If you are power singing and you belt out ballads then you’re going to use more energy than someone with a quiet voice. Those singers that sing in a style more reminiscent of talking should expect to burn less.

What affects the number of calories you burn singing?

Now that we’ve answered the number of calories singing burns, you might be wondering ifs this qualifies singing as exercise? Firstly, don’t quit your gym for singing lessons, as it’s not physical exercise. Getting out of breath lifting weights is because your heart is working hard. Getting out of breath when singing is usually due to poor technique such as excess pushing. However, singing properly improves your cardiovascular health as breath is the engine.    

Here’s how long some typical foods take to burn off by singing  

And just for fun, here’s how long it’d take a person weighing 150 pounds (10.7 stone or 68kg) to burn off these delicious snacks:  

  • Kit Kat Chunky: 2 hours, 3 minutes   
  • Monster Munch: 1 hour, 19 minutes  
  • One slice of Domino’s pizza: 1 hour, 39 minutes   
  • Your Mum’s Roast Dinner: 4 hours  

Does singing burn face fat?

If you want to use singing as part of a weight-loss strategy, it’s not going to get you the type of quick results you would achieve from dieting and full cardio exercises.

However, there are some exercises you can do which could help to tone the muscles in your face, leading to a firmer and slimmer looking appearance.

Starting off with regular exercise is your best bet if you want to burn face fat. By that we mean 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, or 75 minutes of very vigorous exercise weekly. Activities such as running and jogging are great fat burners.

Once the weight starts to drop off your body, you will also see the benefits up top as well as it starts to come off your face.

But we did also mention some exercises you can do that will burn face fat, so what are they?

Yoga is said to be a great way to tone the muscles in your face and can tighten up loose skin. You could also try facial exercises like smiling. Smiling will help to tone your facial muscles. Here’s how you do it:

  • Make the biggest smile you possibly can and hold the smile for half a minute.
  • Puff your cheeks out and hold it there for half a minute.
  • Tilt back your head and repeat a kissing motion 10 times. Repeat the 10 kisses 3 times.

What you might notice about those types of facial exercise is that they are very similar to the activity you might expect to make with a really energetic singing performance. So, it might be that singing can burn face fat. Try it out!

How many calories does opera singing burn? 

Opera singing requires a lot of breath and stamina, so opera singers will typically shed more calories than a contemporary artist. If you really want to up your calorie game, invest in Musical Theatre, as you’ll undertake cardiovascular exercise at the same time as singing. This is also a great way to increase your lung capacity. Plus, who doesn’t love a good musical?  

Singing high notes is more difficult than low notes because it requires using your abdominal muscles more for breath. You have to use your body more when hitting high notes to gear yourself up for the challenge.  

Calories burned singing and playing guitar

Consider burning more calories by holding an instrument. Switch from playing the piano to holding a guitar to shed more calories. This movement burns more calories than standing in the same spot quietly humming in your lower register.  

According to research, a person can burn as much as 204 calories an hour playing the guitar.

Your weight, effort, position and movement affect how many calories you can burn. If you like to move around the stage, you’ll naturally burn more calories than sitting down, because you’re engaging more muscles. If you sit down during a performance, your heart won’t have to work as hard to pump blood around your body. This means that your metabolic rate isn’t as high as it could be if you were standing.   

Does singing count as exercise?

Singing isn’t as effective as physically active forms of exercise like sports or running. However, it could count as exercise if you do it in a disciplined manner and push yourself. Combining singing with dancing will definitely count as exercise so try and get some routines down to go with your singing.

How many calories do you burn singing each day? Use this equation to calculate: 150 pounds (10.7 stone or 68kg) = 100 calories per hour. Let us know!


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