One way to gauge how hard you are exercising is to use the Borg Scale of Perceived Exertion. The Borg Scale takes into account your fitness level: It matches how hard you feel you are working with numbers from 6 to 20; thus, it is a “relative” scale. The scale starts with “no feeling of exertion,” which rates a 6, and ends with “very, very hard,” which rates a 20. Moderate activities register 11 to 14 on the Borg scale (“fairly light” to “somewhat hard”), while vigorous activities usually rate a 15 or higher (“hard” to “very, very hard”). Dr. Gunnar Borg, who created the scale, set it to run from 6 to 20 as a simple way to estimate heart rate—multiplying the Borg score by 10 gives an approximate heart rate for a particular level of activity.
|How you might describe your exertion||Borg rating of your exertion||Examples
(for most adults <65 years old)
|None||6||Reading a book, watching television|
|Very, very light||7 to 8||Tying shoes|
|Very light||9 to 10||Chores like folding clothes that seem to take little effort|
|Fairly light||11 to 12||Walking through the grocery store or other activities that require some effort but not enough to speed up your breathing|
|Somewhat hard||13 to 14||Brisk walking or other activities that require moderate effort and speed your heart rate and breathing but don’t make you out of breath|
|Hard||15 to 16||Bicycling, swimming, or other activities that take vigorous effort and get the heart pounding and make breathing very fast|
|Very hard||17 to 18||The highest level of activity you can sustain|
|Very, very hard||19 to 20||A finishing kick in a race or other burst of activity that you can’t maintain for long|
Source: Borg G.A. Psychophysical bases of perceived exertion. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 1982; 14:377-381.
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