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David Parry, Camilla Chinnasamy and Dominic Micklewright

Optic flow on the retina creates a perception of a person’s movement relative to their surroundings. This study investigated the effect of optic flow on perceived exertion during cycling. Fifteen participants completed a 20-km reference cycling time trail in the fastest possible time followed by three randomly counterbalanced 20-km cycling trials. Optic flow, via projected video footage of a cycling course, either represented actual speed (TTNORM) or was varied by −15% (TTSLOW) and +15% (TTFAST). During TTSLOW, power output and ratings of perceived exertion (RPE), measured every 4 km, were lower during TTSLOW compared with TTNORM and TTFAST. There were no differences in heart rate or cadence. This study is the first to show that different rates of optic flow influence perceived exertion during cycling, with slower optic flow being associated with lower RPE and higher power output.

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W. Jack Rejeski

Subjective estimates of physical work intensity are considered of major importance to those concerned with prescription of exercise. This article reviews major theoretical models which might guide research on the antecedents for ratings of perceived exertion (RPE). It is argued that an active rather than passive view of perception is warranted in future research, and a parallel-processing model is emphasized as providing the needed structure for such reconceptualization. Moreover, existing exercise research is reviewed as support for this latter approach and several suggestions are offered with regard to needed empirical study.

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Mallory R. Marshall and James M. Pivarnik

Background:

Maternal physical activity declines across gestation, possibly due to changing perception of physical activity intensity. Our purpose was to a) determine whether rating of perceived exertion (RPE) during a treadmill exercise changes at a given energy expenditure, and b) identify the influence of prepregnancy physical activity behavior on this relationship.

Methods:

Fifty-one subjects were classified as either exercisers (N = 26) or sedentary (N = 25). Participants visited our laboratory at 20 and 32 weeks gestation and at 12 weeks postpartum. At each visit, women performed 5 minutes of moderate and vigorous treadmill exercise; speed was self-selected. Heart rate (HR), oxygen consumption (VO2), and RPE were measured during the last minute at each treadmill intensity.

Results:

At moderate intensity, postpartum VO2 was higher compared with 20- or 32-week VO2, but there was no difference for HR or RPE. For vigorous intensity, postpartum HR and VO2 were higher than at 32 weeks, but RPE was not different at any time points.

Conclusions:

RPE does not differ by pregnancy time point at either moderate or vigorous intensity. However, relative to energy cost, physical activity was perceived to be more difficult at 32 weeks compared with other time points. Pregnant women, then, may compensate for physiological changes during gestation by decreasing walking/running speeds.

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Stephen H. Boutcher, Lori A. Fleischer-Curtian and Scott D. Gines

This study was designed to examine the audience-pleasing and self-constructional aspects of self-presentation on perceived exertion. Subjects performed two 18-min sessions on a cycle ergometer at light, moderate, and heavy workloads, during which perceived exertion and heart rate were collected. Each subject participated in a male and female experimenter condition. Males reported significantly lower perceived exertion in the female experimenter condition at the heavy load, compared to the same load in the male experimenter condition. There were no other significant differences for males or females at any of the workloads in either condition. Responses on the Self-Monitoring Inventory were used to assign subjects to either a high or low self-construction group. Results indicated that high self-constructors recorded significantly lower perceived exertion, compared to low self-constructors, at the low and moderate workloads.

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Mark D. Winborn, Andrew W. Meyers and Carol Mulling

This study investigated the influence of gender and athletic experience on individuals' ratings of their perceived exertion (RPE). Twelve males with high athletic experience, 12 with low athletic experience, 12 females with high athletic experience, and 12 with low athletic experience were recruited from university classes and athletic teams. An estimate of each individual's maximum oxygen uptake (est VO2max) was obtained from a submaximal bicycle ergometer test. Subjects were then presented with ergometer workloads at 30, 50, and 70% of their estimated VO2max. Heart rate readings and RPEs were obtained during each workload presentation. Low athletic experience females were the least accurate in their RPEs, followed by low athletic experience males. High athletic experience males were the most accurate in their RPEs, followed by high athletic experience females. Results indicated that differences in RPE accuracy scores may be influenced by gender but that exposure to athletic experiences appears to override any potential gender differences.

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Stephen H. Boutcher and Michele Trenske

This study examined the effects of sensory deprivation and music on perceived exertion and affect. Volunteer women (N=24) performed three 18-min sessions on a cycle ergometer at light, moderate, and heavy workloads during which perceived exertion, affect, and heart rate were monitored. Each subject participated in a control, deprivation, and music condition. No significant differences where found in heart rate between conditions. In contrast, significantly lower perceived exertion existed during the music compared to the deprived condition at the low workload. Similarly, there was lower perceived exertion during the music compared to the control condition at the moderate workload. Also, significantly greater levels of affect were observed during the music compared to the deprived condition at the moderate and heavy workloads. It was concluded that the influence of music and deprivation on perceived exertion and affect was load dependent. These results are discussed with regard to informational processing models of sensory and psychological input.

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Lars Donath, Lukas Zahner, Mareike Cordes, Henner Hanssen, Arno Schmidt-Trucksäss and Oliver Faude

The study investigated physiological responses during 2-km walking at a certain intensity of a previously performed maximal exercise test where moderate perceived exertion was reported. Twenty seniors were examined by an incremental walking treadmill test to obtain maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max). A submaximal 2-km walking test was applied 1 wk later. The corresponding moderate perceived exertion (4 on the CR-10 scale) during the VO2max test was applied to the 2-km treadmill test. Moderate exertion (mean rating of perceived exertion [RPE]: 4 ± 1) led to 76% ± 8% of VO2max and 79% ± 6% of maximal heart rate. RPE values drifted with a significant time effect (p = .001, ηp = .58) during the 2-km test from 3 ± 0.7 to 4.6 ± 0.8. Total energy expenditure (EE) was 3.3 ± 0.5 kcal/kg. No gender differences in ventilatory, heart-rate, or EE data occurred. Brisk walking at moderate RPE of 3–5 would lead to a beneficial physiological response during endurance training and a weekly EE of nearly 1,200 kcal when exercising 5 times/wk for 30 min.

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Laura Guidetti, Antonio Sgadari, Cosme F. Buzzachera, Marianna Broccatelli, Alan C. Utter, Fredric L. Goss and Carlo Baldari

This study examined the concurrent and construct validity of the OMNI-Cycle Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) Scale, using elderly men and women. Seventy-six participants performed a load-incremented cycle-ergometer exercise test. Concurrent validity was determined by correlating OMNI-RPE responses with oxygen uptake, relative peak oxygen uptake, pulmonary ventilation, heart rate, respiratory rate, and respiratory-exchange ratio during a load-incremented cycle-ergometer protocol. Construct validity was established by correlating RPE derived from the OMNI-Cycle Scale with RPE from the Borg (6–20) Scale. Multilevel, mixed linear-regression models indicated that OMNI-RPE distributed as a significant (p < .05) positive linear function (r = .81–.92) for all physiological measures. OMNI-RPE was positively (p < .01) and linearly related to Borg-RPE in elderly men (r = .97) and women (r = .96). This study demonstrates both concurrent and construct validity of the OMNI-Cycle RPE Scale. These findings support the use of this scaling metric with elderly men and women to estimate RPE during cycle-ergometer exercise.

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David R. Dolbow, Richard S. Farley, Jwa K. Kim and Jennifer L. Caputo

The purpose of this study was to examine the cardiovascular responses to water treadmill walking at 2.0 mph (3.2 km/hr), 2.5 mph (4.0 km/hr), and 3.0 mph (4.8 km/hr) in older adults. Responses to water treadmill walking in 92 °F (33 °C) water were compared with responses to land treadmill walking at 70 °F (21 °C) ambient temperature. After an accommodation period, participants performed 5-min bouts of walking at each speed on 2 occasions. Oxygen consumption (VO2), heart rate (HR), systolic blood pressure (SBP), and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) were significantly higher during therapeutic water treadmill walking than during land treadmill walking. Furthermore, VO2, HR, and RPE measures significantly increased with each speed increase during both land and water treadmill walking. SBP significantly increased with each speed during water treadmill walking but not land treadmill walking. Thus, it is imperative to monitor HR and blood pressure for safety during this mode of activity for older adults.

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Ryosuke Shigematsu, Linda M. Ueno, Masaki Nakagaichi, Hosung Nho and Kiyoji Tanaka

The purpose of this study was to determine the efficacy of rate of perceived exertion (RPE) to monitor exercise intensity in older adults. Middle-aged (46.9 ± 7.0 years, n = 24) and older women (75.5 ± 3.8 years, n = 29) performed a graded maximal exercise test on a cycle ergometer while RPE, oxygen uptake, heart rate, and blood lactate levels were measured. The Pearson’s product-moment correlation coefficient between RPE and oxygen uptake for each stage of the graded exercise test was calculated for each participant. The mean coefficient for the older group (r = .954) was similar to that of middle-aged group (r = .963). The autocorrelation coefficient was much lower (r = .411) in the older group than in the middle-aged group (r = .871). Variability in RPE through the graded exercise test was similar between the two groups. In conclusion, RPE was strongly associated with oxygen uptake in the older group. These results indicate that RPE is effective in monitoring exercise intensity in older adults.