A guide to using the Borg Scale of Perceived Exertion 

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Author: Sam Peters, FRP, Rehabilitation and Training Operations Manager

Samuel Peters

The Borg Scale of Perceived Exertion is a tool designed to measure how hard you are working whilst exercising. Perceived exertion is a measure of how intense you find an activity whilst considering things such as your heart rate, breathing rate, perspiration rate and levels of muscle fatigue.  

Although measuring your exertion this way is subjective based on your own experiences, using the Borg Scale will allow you to keep objective measurements against certain activities and compare them as your fitness levels improve or time passes. 

How it Works 

The Borg Scale uses a 14 point scale starting at 6 (no exertion at all) and finishing at 20 (maximal exertion). It is generally agreed that ratings between 12 to 14, would indicate the activity you are performing is being done at a ‘moderate level’ of intensity.  

The Borg Scale of Perceived Exertion 
Rating  Intensity Level 
6  No Exertion 
7  Extremely Light 
8   
9  Very Light 
10   
11  Light 
12   
13  Somewhat Hard 
14   
15  Hard 
16   
17  Very Hard 
18   
19  Extremely Hard 
20  Maximum Exertion 

 

Through monitoring your perceived exertion over time, you’ll find it’ll become easier to adjust your exercise to stay within a certain range of intensity levels. Also, the more you use the scale the more reliable your ratings will become. This means that you’ll get the most out of the activities you’re performing by not working too hard or too easily! 

It is important to take care when exercising, so if you find that your intensity level is too high or you have any form of chest pain, dizziness or extreme fatigue, to contact your GP immediately. 

 

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