Purpose: The study purposes were 1) to study the differences between perceived exertion measured by a generic (/10) or an individualized (/max value obtained during the test) score on the OMNI cycle scale (OMNImax and OMNI10) and the actual effort (peak oxygen consumption) at different stages of a maximal cycling test in a group of children age 8 to 10 yr old and 2) to assess whether the concordance between perceived exertion and actual effort differs according to body mass status or physical activity level.
Methods: A total of 477 children from the QUebec Adipose and Lifestyle InvesTigation in Youth (QUALITY) cohort performed a progressive maximal test on a cycling ergometer. Oxygen consumption was continuously measured during the test. Perceived exertion was measured at the end of each stage, at exhaustion, and during recovery using the OMNI cycle scale. Percentage of peak oxygen consumption was compared with %OMNI10 and %OMNImax; two-way ANOVA was conducted to detect the differences between the physiologic and subjective indicators of exercise intensity according to body mass status and physical activity levels of children.
Results: At each stage of the test, except during recovery, children perceived their effort to be lower than the actual intensity level. This lower scoring of exercise intensity is more important when using OMNI10 than OMNImax. No differences in body mass status or physical activity level were observed.
Conclusion: It is better to consider the OMNI score relative to the maximal score obtained (OMNImax) from the children to reflect the actual physiological effort (oxygen consumption). The association between the effort performed and the OMNI cycle scale score is independent of body mass status and physical activity level of the child.