Rating of perceived exertion
(RPE) has been consistently used as a subjective index of exercise intensity for both exercise testing and prescription. Little empirical efforts have been made to determine how psychological factors influence changes in RPE. This study examined the influence of self-efficacy
expectations on changes in RPE as a function of exercise intensity.
Participants were 193 sedentary older adults (mean age = 66.7 years) who completed an assessment of exercise self-efficacy
and aerobic capacity.
Analyses indicated that RPE during exercise changed in both a linear and a quadratic manner as intensity increased and that self-efficacy
was a predictor of both patterns of change. Those high in self-efficacy
maintained a constant rate of change in RPE as exercise intensity increased, whereas less efficacious participants exhibited a slower rate of change in RPE as a function of exercise intensity, with an initial gradual curve at lower intensity and a more dramatic trajectory at higher intensity.
Results have important implications for using RPE for exercise prescription
in older adults and suggest that exercise self-efficacy
is implicated in patterns of RPE change.