Scientists say this 191-year-old symphony could help your heart health.

I'm going to play you a song.

You probably know it. In fact, you probably know it extremely well.


That's the fourth movement of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, aka "Ode to Joy." Arguably the single most recognizable piece of music of all time.

(Sorry, "Too Much Time on My Hands," by Styx.)

Now I'm going to play you something else. Really listen closely this time.

That's the third movement of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9. Part of the same piece of music. But there's a good chance you've never heard it before.

It's kind of a deep cut. Like the beginning of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." Or the fourth verse of "The Star Spangled Banner," which we know exists, but don't actually know.

And turns out it's just a stream of anti-British obscenities. Image by Neutrality/Wikimedia Commons.

When it comes to Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, the fourth movement pretty much gets all the love, glory, and fame (not to mention all the sweeeeet electric guitar covers). Which is a shame.

Because the third movement might have magical healing powers.

Seriously.

According to a group of fancy Oxford University scientists, listening to the third movement of Beethoven's No. 9 might actually lower your blood pressure and help fight heart disease. In real life.

Music therapy has been a thing for a while. But British researchers just hit upon some of the first concrete evidence that it's actually, like, a thing.

According to Laura Donnelly at The Telegraph:

"Research presented to the the British Cardiovascular Society (BCS) conference in Manchester found that listening to music with a repeated 10-second rhythm coincided with a fall in blood pressure, reducing the heart rate.Such recordings include Va Pensiero by Italian composer Giusuppe Verdi, Nessun Dorma by Giacomo Puccini and Beethoven's 9th Symphony adagio[*]."

*They're talking about the third movement here. ("Adagio" is just a fancy Italian word that means, "Yo, Mikey! Play this part kinda slowly! ...

...and say "hi" to your sister for me.") Painting by George Agnew Reid/Wikimedia Commons.

What's more? There's evidence that the composers might have even done this intentionally.

"Professor Sleight explained some composers, including Verdi, seemed to have managed to mirror the natural rise and fall of blood pressure in the human body.' Verdi may well have been a physiologist,' he said, 'he hit on this ten-second rhythm in blood pressure and you can see it in his music.'" — Elizabeth Davis, Classic FM

That's right.

A bunch of 18th- and 19th-century composers — before the dawn of modern medicine — got together and basically said, "OK, guys. It's obvious that lots of our fellow Austrians and Italians and Prussians and whatever are super stressed out. Since a low-sodium diet won't be invented for another couple hundred years, let's help 'em out and write some calm-as-hell classical music that mimics the function of their circulatory system."

And that's kind of amazing.

OK, but what does this mean? You know, for us?

First, nothing's been proven. This is not, like, prescribable medicine (yet). But the study suggests that these effects aren't individual, but universal. If more evidence confirms these findings, it could mean that the same types of songs with similar rhythms (like Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, third movement) might work to lower blood pressure in all of us. That's pretty neat.

And even though nothing's been proven, why not spend some time listening to some dope classical music that's not only free but might be magic medicine?

There is literally zero downside and possible tremendous upside to chilling out with this magnificent Verdi tune:

And this Beethoven one (you know the one):

And this sweet Puccini track:

Interestingly, the same study found that listening to the Red Hot Chili Peppers actually increased subjects' heart rates pretty much across the board.

"Bjzzeijf Californburggg Tnksahruuuunnnnfffff Giveitawaynnaaabbbusfdna." Image by Carlos Delgado/Wikimedia Commons.

Which doesn't mean that listening to RHCP would necessarily immediately cause a massive heart attack of course, but uh ... you can't totally rule it out now, can you?

But I digress.

The most important takeaway of all?

If you're pushing the fourth movement of Beethoven's No. 9, even Beethoven knows you're basic.


Portrait by Joseph Karl Stieler.

Beethoven's No. 9, third movement: Good for the heart. Better for the soul.

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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

via Pixabay

Over the past six years, it feels like race relations have been on the decline in the U.S. We've lived through Donald Trump's appeals to America's racist underbelly. The nation has endured countless murders of unarmed Black people by police. We've also been bombarded with viral videos of people calling the police on people of color for simply going about their daily lives.

Earlier this year there was a series of incidents in which Asian-Americans were the targets of racist attacks inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Given all that we've seen in the past half-decade, it makes sense for many to believe that race relations in the U.S. are on the decline.

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