The Borg Rating of Perceived exertion (RPE) is a way of measuring physical activity intensity level. Perceived exertion is how hard you feel like your body is working. It is based on the physical sensations a person experiences during physical activity. These sensations include increased heart rate, increased breathing rate, sweating and muscle fatigue. Although this is a subjective measure, a persons exertion rating may provide a fairly good estimate of the actual heart rate during physical activity (Borg, 1998). This is especially true as one becomes more in tune with their body as their training age improves.
How this scale relates to heart rate is shown by the number range of 6 - 20 RPE. With a rating of 6 correlating to "no exertion at all" and a 60 bpm heart rate, or approximately a resting heart rate and 20 means "maximal exertion" and a 200 bpm heart rate. For example a walker who wants to engage in moderate intensity activity would aim for a Borg scale of "somewhat hard" (12-14). On the other hand CrossFit workouts can easily be in the "extremely hard" range of 16-20. Note: that this calculation is only an approximation of heart rate, and the actual heart rate can vary quite a bit differently depending on age and physical condition.
Instructions For Borg RPE Scale:
While doing physical activity, we want you to rate your perception of exertion. This feeling should reflect how heavy and strenuous the exercise feels to you, combining all sensations and feeling of physical stress, effort and fatigue. Do not concern yourself with any one factor such as leg pain or shortness of breath, but try to focus on your total feeling of exertion. Present the rating scale DURING the activity and select a number that best describes your level of exertion. This will give you a good idea of the intensity level of your activity, and you can use this information to speed up or slow down your movements to reach your desired range.
Try to appraise your feeling of exertion as honestly as possible, without thinking about what the actual physical load is. Your own feeling of effort and exertion is important, not how it compares to other people's.
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