Specifically, the health of your vocal cords. To demonstrate this finding, researchers performed experiments like the one in the video above, which allowed them to record the movement of muscles in the vocal tract as beatboxers did their thing.
Whatever else might be learned from this study, the resulting videos are somewhere between mesmerizing and completely disgusting, depending on how one feels about extreme close-ups into people's mouths.
The man behind this research — though not this particular bit of beatboxing — is University of Illinois associate professor Dr. H. Steven Sims. He says the lack of existing scientific data on beatboxing spurred him to investigate just what muscle movements and vocal tract contortions goes into this particular artform. To that end, four very understanding volunteers agreed to have what is described as "a flexible fiber optic endoscope threaded through the nose and positioned just above the vocal apparatus" while they beatboxed.
In a statement, Dr. Sims explained that beatboxing appears to be beneficial for the vocal cords:
"While there are lots of data on how the voice is used and can be injured in singers, little is known about the structures involved in beatboxing and if it poses a risk of injury to the vocal tract... Keeping the glottis open means that beatboxing may actually be protective of the vocal folds... Singers rely almost exclusively on the vocal cords themselves to produce their sounds. So all the energy involved with singing is concentrated on these structures, which can develop scar tissue with overuse."
Beatboxers, on the other hand, are able to avoid such damage because they also use the pharyngeal muscles to create sounds, which takes stress off of the vocal cord. Indeed, Dr. Sims says it might be possible for singers to borrow some beatboxing techniques, similarly elongating their vocal tract before they hit high notes.
Via Journal of Voice.