Rating of perceived exertion

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In sports, health and particularly exercise testing, the rating of perceived exertion (RPE), as measured by the Borg rating of perceived exertion scale (RPE scale),[1][2][3] is a frequently used quantitative measure of perceived exertion during physical activity.[3][4][5][6] In medicine this is used to document the patient's exertion during a test for the severity of diseases, and sports coaches use the scale to assess the intensity of training and competition as well as endurance. The original scale introduced by Gunnar Borg rated exertion on a scale of 6-20. Borg then constructed a newer category (C) ratio (R) scale, the Borg CR10 scale, rated on a scale from 1-10. This is especially used in clinical diagnosis and severity assessment of breathlessness and dyspnea, chest pain, angina and musculo-skeletal pain. The CR-10 scale is best suited when there is an overriding sensation arising either from a specific area of the body rather than overall exertion, for example, muscle pain, ache or fatigue in the quadriceps or from pulmonary responses during exertion.

The Borg scale can be compared to other linear scales such as the Likert scale or a visual analogue scale. The sensitivity and reproducibility of the results are broadly very similar, although the Borg scale may outperform the Likert scale in some cases.[7]

Set points on the RPE scale[edit]

The Borg RPE scale is a numerical scale that ranges from 6 to 20,[8] where 6 means "no exertion at all" and 20 means "maximal exertion." When a measurement is taken, a number is chosen from the following scale by an individual that best describes their perceived level of exertion during physical activity.

  • 6 – no exertion at all, relaxed
  • 7 – extremely light
  • 8
  • 9 – very light
  • 10
  • 11 – light
  • 12 – moderate
  • 13 – somewhat hard
  • 14
  • 15 – hard
  • 16
  • 17 – very hard
  • 18
  • 19 – extremely hard
  • 20 – maximal exertion

The scale was constructed to roughly correlate to 10% of heart rate in a healthy 20-year-old.[8] In older individuals, the correlation becomes higher than 10% at the high-end of the scale, as maximum heart rate declines with age.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Borg GA (1982). "Psychophysical bases of perceived exertion". Med Sci Sports Exerc. 14 (5): 377–81. doi:10.1249/00005768-198205000-00012. PMID 7154893.
  2. ^ Borg G (1970). "Perceived exertion as an indicator of somatic stress". Scand J Rehabil Med. 2 (2): 92–8. PMID 5523831.
  3. ^ a b Dawes HN, Barker KL, Cockburn J, Roach N, Scott O, Wade D (2005). "Borg's rating of perceived exertion scales: do the verbal anchors mean the same for different clinical groups?". Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 86 (5): 912–6. doi:10.1016/j.apmr.2004.10.043. PMID 15895336.
  4. ^ Roelands B, de Koning J, Foster C, Hettinga F, Meeusen R (May 2013). "Neurophysiological determinants of theoretical concepts and mechanisms involved in pacing". Sports Med. 43 (5): 301–311. doi:10.1007/s40279-013-0030-4. PMID 23456493. S2CID 30392999. A component that appears to integrate many variables during whole-body exercise is the rating of perceived exertion (RPE) [15]. ...
    15. Borg, Gunnar (1982). "Psychophysical bases of perceived exertion". Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 14 (5): 377–81. doi:10.1249/00005768-198205000-00012. PMID 7154893.
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  5. ^ Rattray B, Argus C, Martin K, Northey J, Driller M (March 2015). "Is it time to turn our attention toward central mechanisms for post-exertional recovery strategies and performance?". Front. Physiol. 6: 79. doi:10.3389/fphys.2015.00079. PMC 4362407. PMID 25852568. Aside from accounting for the reduced performance of mentally fatigued participants, this model rationalizes the reduced RPE and hence improved cycling time trial performance of athletes using a glucose mouthwash and the greater power output during a RPE matched cycling time trial following amphetamine ingestion
  6. ^ Chambers, E. S.; Bridge, M. W.; Jones, D. A. (15 April 2009). "Carbohydrate sensing in the human mouth: effects on exercise performance and brain activity". The Journal of Physiology. 587 (8): 1779–1794. doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2008.164285. PMC 2683964. PMID 19237430.
  7. ^ Grant, S.; Aitchison, T.; Henderson, E.; Christie, J.; Zare, S.; McMurray, J.; Dargie, H. (1999). "A Comparison of the Reproducibility and the Sensitivity to Change of Visual Analogue Scales, Borg Scales, and Likert Scales in Normal Subjects During Submaximal Exercise". Chest. 116 (5): 1208–1217. doi:10.1378/chest.116.5.1208. PMID 10559077.
  8. ^ a b "Measuring Physical Activity Intensity". CDC. 2019-02-18.

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