In sports and particularly exercise testing, the Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) Scale measures perceived exertion. In medicine this is used to document the patient’s exertion during a test, and sports coaches use the scale to assess the intensity of training and competition. The original scale introduced by Gunnar Borg rated exertion on a scale of 6-20. Borg then constructed a category (C) ratio (R) scale, the Borg CR10 Scale. This is especially used in clinical diagnosis 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, for example, muscle pain, ache or fatigue in the quadriceps or from pulmonary responses.
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 may outperform the Likert scale in some cases.
The seemingly odd range of 6-20 is to follow the general heart rate of a healthy adult by multiplying by 10. For instance, a perceived exertion of 12 would be expected to coincide with a heart rate of roughly 120 beats per minute.
Set points on scale
It ranges from 6 to 20, where 6 means “no exertion at all” and 20 means “maximal exertion.” Choose the number from below 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. Look at the scales and the expressions and then give a number.
6 No exertion at all
7 Extremely light (7.5)
9 Very light
13 Somewhat hard
17 Very hard
19 Extremely hard
20 Maximal exertion
9 corresponds to “very light” exercise. For a healthy person, it is like walking slowly at his or her own pace for some minutes.
13 on the scale is “somewhat hard” exercise, but it still feels OK to continue.
17, or “very hard,” is very strenuous. A healthy person can still go on, but he or she really has to push him- or herself. It feels very heavy, and the person is very tired.
19 on the scale is an extremely strenuous exercise level. For most people this is the most strenuous exercise they have ever experienced.
- 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.
- CDC http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/measuring/exertion.html.