The purpose of this study was to determine whether heart rate and ventilation can be predicted from RPE. Also, this study determined whether breathing or heart rate sensations caused perceived effort or strain (degree of perceived central strain). Eight ambulatory active teenagers (ages 13-16 years, M= 14.75) with spastic cerebral palsy performed a discontinuous maximum bicycle ergometer protocol. Rate of perceived exertion (RPE), heart rate (HR) (V5 lead), and V̇E (Wright respirometer) were recorded each minute. Results indicated that Minutes 1 and 2 of Stage 1 were significantly correlated for RPE and ventilation, and RPE and heart rate were significantly correlated for Minutes 3 and 4 of Stages 1 and 2. Low standard error of estimates values were also evident for each of these minutes wherein significant correlations resulted. Initially, pulmonary strain was perceived as greater than HR for a given RPE value. However, by the conclusion of the second stage, breathing was slightly less than cardiac strain. Results suggest that RPE can be used to predict heart rate after the 2nd minute of discontinuous exercise training or testing. The accurate estimation of ventilation for the initial minutes of exercise may be limited since some anxiety, secondary to hyperventilation, could result. Also, breathing is perceived as a greater strain than heart rate initially but appears to equal and be slightly lower at the conclusion of aerobic exercise.
Request reprints from Dr. Thomas J. Birk, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Medical College of Ohio, C.S. #10008, Toledo, OH 43699.