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Psychological components of effort sense

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: September 1994
CLINICAL SCIENCES: Clinically Relevant Symposium: PDF Only


The perception of effort is multidimensional and it is governed by many physiological, psychological, and experiential factors. This paper deals with a discussion of selected psychological states and traits that are known to be correlated with the expression of effort sense. It has been shown that anxiety, somatic perception, depression, and neuroticism are associated with perceived exertion. Extroversion has been found to be inversely correlated with perceived exertion, and positively correlated with preferred exercise intensity. These empirical findings are congruent with theoretical expectations in each case. It has also been found that perception of effort can be increased and decreased in a systematic manner with various pshcyological interventions such as hypnotic sugestion, dissociativ cognitive strategies, and imagery. Changes in effort sense can also be systematically modified by titrating exericse volume (e.g., overtraining, tapering), and this exercise-induced alteration in perception covaries with affective changes. The research reviewd in this paper supports the conclusion that effort sense is best conceptualized as a complex psychobiological construct as originally proposed by Borg three decades ago.

©1994The American College of Sports Medicine