Ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) were developed to provide a subjective estimation of exercise intensity during exercise but are also used to produce exercise intensities and to report the intensity of completed exercise sessions.
Purpose: To determine the relationship between RPE assessed before, during, and after trials of RPE-based self-regulated aerobic exercise.
Methods: Twenty-six participants (10 males and 16 females) were tested for aerobic fitness. Participants completed three 30-min trials of treadmill exercise at a self-selected intensity corresponding to verbal prescriptions of light, moderate, and vigorous. Participants were instructed to adjust treadmill speed every 5 min to maintain the prescribed intensity. RPE using the OMNI picture system was taken immediately before, every 5 min during, immediately after, and 15 min after exercise.
Results: Treadmill speed increased during the moderate trial, and HR increased during all trials (P < 0.05). Predicted RPE and session RPE were higher than the average RPE for all sessions (P < 0.05) but not different than RPE values obtained at the end of the 30-min trials (P > 0.05).
Conclusions: Findings suggest that predicted and session RPE are well matched to the exertion associated with the finishing minute of exercise sessions but are poorly matched to the majority of the exercise session. In-task RPE values tend to drift throughout exercise despite little or no change in treadmill speed and instructions to self-regulate exercise intensity. These findings indicate that RPE may be linked to exercise duration during self-regulated exercise. Additionally, session RPE ratings taken after exercise tend to reflect the close of exercise rather than the exertion associated with the exercise session as a whole.