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Fitness Words (or Phrases) You Should Know:  Rating of Perceived Exertion

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Most studies show that the most benefits from cardiovascular exercise accrue at heart rates of 60-90% of maximum heart rate.  So there is a clear benefit to using a heart rate monitor during exercise.  Smartwatches like the Apple Watch have this built in.  Great news though if you don’t have access to a heart rate monitor- you can estimate your heart based on something called:

Rating of Perceived Exertion (my version)

  • 1/10 is resting on a chair
  • 5/10 is easy activity
  • 6/10 would be slightly more difficult than easy
  • 7, 8 , & 9 / 10 vary according to your fitness levels.
  • 7 & 8 are where you want to be doing most of your cardio.
  • 7 is where talking and exercising would become difficult and 8 it would be impossible to talk and exercise.
  • 9/10 is a level which is challenging and that which you could not sustain longer than 10-30 seconds
  • 10/10 is maximal effort or sprinting, and you couldn’t sustain this level for longer than 10 seconds.

*By the way, there are other measurements out there, the Borg Scale is one from 6-20, but this is the one I use with my clients and I find it works very well.

So your Rating of Perceived Exertion for most cardio should be between 6-8, with occasional intervals at 9 if you’re healthy and fit enough. This brings me to another scientifically proven way to measure cardio work- The Talk Test.  We’ll cover that next time. 

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