To fight a surge of Covid cases South Korean authorities decided to ban music with a fast tempo in gyms.
South Korea is experiencing a fourth wave of Covid-19 infections and has recorded its highest daily cases so far in the past few days. With 1,615 new infections on July 13 for a country of 51 million people, the situation is much different than in countries severely hit by the virus. South Korea recorded only 2,000 deaths due to Covid-19 and is perceived as a successful country in the fight against the coronavirus.
The country has been closely monitoring the places of infections, be them in a department store, a shop or a bar. And with the spike of cases, more restrictions have been put in place.
One of them, relatively uncommon, makes some Koreans skeptical. In fact, gyms will not be able to play music with a beat per minute higher than 120. It also affects group classes like aerobics or Zumba.
For instance, the song Gangnam Style, with 132 bpm, cannot be played anymore.
The authorities want to prevent Koreans from feeling energized by the tempo of music, inciting to make more efforts or run faster. They would eventually breath more heavily, sweat more intensely and spread the virus.
Music restrictions and speed limit on treadmills
120 beats per minute is approximately twice the heart beat of someone who doesn’t make an effort. The song “I wanna dance with somebody” by Withney Houston is 119 bpm. “Call me maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen is also around the same tempo.
A 2007 study on the effects of music tempo and loudness level on treadmill exercise concluded that “fast, loud music might be played to enhance optimal exercising“. Another study from 2013 found that preference for fast tempo increased as the intensity of the exercise increased. In 2007, the US Track & Field, the governing body for running, had banned the use of headphones and audio players for security reasons and to avoid giving a competitive edge.
On top of music restrictions in South Korea, treadmills have a speed limit. They can only be set approximately at the pace of someone walking. Treadmills cannot be faster than 6 km/h (3.7 mph).
However, bikes in the gym were yet authorized. And people listen to their own music with earphones.
- The effects of music tempo and loudness level on treadmill exercise, 2007, Restricted access
- Revisiting the Relationship Between Exercise Heart Rate and Music Tempo Preference, 2013, Restricted access