Borg Rating Of Perceived Exertion


Borg rating of perceived exertion (RPE) is an outcome measure scale used in knowing exercise intensity prescription. It is use in monitoring progress and mode of exercise in cardiac patients as well as in other patient population undergoing rehabilitation and endurance training.

Borg RPE scale was developed by Gunnar Borg[1] for rating exertion and breathlessness during physical activity; that is, how hard the activity is as shown by high heart and respiration rate, profuse perspiration and muscle exertion.

Versions And Scoring

Borg original version is a scale of 6-20; it has a high correlation to heart rate and multiplying each number by 10 gives the training heart rate as at the time of scoring. It was later reconstructed to category (C) ratio (R) scale, termed Borg CR10 Scale or modified Borg Dyspnoea Scale which is mostly used in diagnosis of breathlessness and dyspnea, chest pain and musculo-skeletal pain. The CR-10 scale is best used in a specific area of the body sensation such as muscle pain or from pulmonary responses. [2]

Borg RPE Scale Borg CR10 Scale
Scoring Level of Exertion Scoring Level of Exertion
6 No Exertion 0 No Exertion
7 Extremely Light 0.5 Very very Slight
8 1 Very Slight
9 Very Light 2 Slight
10 3 Moderate
11 Light 4 Somewhat Severe
12 5 Severe
13 Somewhat Hard 6
14 7 Very Severe
15 Hard (Heavy) 8
16 9 Very very Severe
17 Very Hard 10 Maximal
19 Extremely Hard
20 Maximal Exertion

In Borg RPE;

  • 9 = ‘very light’ exercise which equals walking slowly for few minutes at own pace of a healthy individual..
  • 13 = ‘somewhat hard’ but the individual is still able to continue the activity.
  • 17 = ‘very hard’. A healthy person can continue but must push themselves beyond their comfort of being very fatigued.
  • 19 = extremely strenuous exercise.for most people, the hardest they have ever experienced.

Intended Population

It is intended for all patient under rehabilitation. and for monitoring exercise prescription in athletes.It may not be suitable for children's use as the scoring is difficult to interpret in this age group.[3]

Method of Use

The scale is a very simple numerical list. Participants are asked to rate their exertion on the scale during the activity, taking into consideration feelings of physical stress and fatigue, disregarding any factor such as leg pain or breathlessness but focusing on the whole feeling of exertion. This number chosen connotes the intensity of activity allowing the participant to speed up or slow down movements/activity. The scale takes few seconds to complete, can be self or researcher administered in single occasion or multiple times.



Testing of the subject twice was used in ascertaining reliability in a study and Borg RPE was found to be reliable in rating exertion[4][5] The verbal anchor using VAS of the scale when tested in different clinical group and setting was found to have no significant difference in meaning in the groups except for the group that has a brain injury.[6]


Originally RPE was validated against heart rate.[7] With time, RPE has since been researched extensively in a variety of different conditions and population groups.

Borg RPE scores were positively associated with heart rate in adults during exercise sessions using the Wii Fit Plus.[8] 

Skinner et al, found no significant differences in any of the physiological and perceptual variables in work intensity when the work load was presented in a random order and compared with those obtained during the progressive exercise test.[4]

A recent study reported that the Borg RPE scale may be used in individuals with Parkinson’s disease in which formal exercise testing may not be available.[9]



A work[11] done in a laboratory setting comparing physiological measurements and actual lifting tasks in the workplace found a relationship between perceived physical exertion and individual physical capacity; in both cardiovascular[12]and muscular work[13]. However, a research by by Village et al.[14] shows a weak relationship between perceived physical exertion and workload


  1. Rating of perceived exertion. Available from: 24 May 2019)
  2. Williams N. The Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale. Occupational Medicine.2017; 67(5):404–405,
  3. Pfeiffer K, Pivarnik JM, Womack CJ, Reeves MJ, Robert MM. Reliability and validity of the Borg and OMNI RPE Scales in adolescent girls. Medicine and science in sports and exercise. 2003; 34(12):2057-61.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Skinner JS, Hutsler R, Bergsteinová V, Buskirk ER. The validity and reliability of a rating scale of perceived exertion. Medicine and science in sports. 1973;5(2): 94-6.
  5. Lamb KL, Eston RG, Corns D. Reliability of ratings of perceived exertion during progressive treadmill exercise.Br J Sports Med 1999;33:336–339
  6. Dawes, Helen N. et al. Borg’s Rating of Perceived Exertion Scales: Do the Verbal Anchors Mean the Same for Different Clinical Groups? Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2005;86(5): 912 - 916
  7. American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM's guidelines for exercise testing and prescription. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2013 Mar 4.
  8. Pollock BS,  Barkley JE, PotenzinI N, Desalvo RM, Buser SL, Otterstetter et al. Validity of Borg Ratings of Perceived Exertion During Active Video Game Play. Int J Exerc Sci. 2013; 6(2): 164–170.
  9. PENKO AL, BARKLEY JE, KOOP MM, ALBERTS JL. Borg scale is valid for ratings of perceived exertion for individuals with Parkinson’s disease. International journal of exercise science. 2017;10(1):76.
  10. Vivo Phys-Evan Mathews. RPE - Rating of Perceived Exertion. Available from:[last accessed 30/4/2019]
  11. Jakobsen MD, Sundstrup E, Persson R, Andersen CH, Andersen LL. Is Borg’s perceived exertion scale a useful indicator of muscular and cardiovascular load in blue-collar workers with lifting tasks? A cross-sectional workplace study. Eur J Appl Physiol 2014;114(2):425–434.
  12. Scherr J, Wolfarth B, Christle JW, Pressler A, Wagenpfeil S, Halle M. Associations between Borg’s Rating of Perceived Exertion and physiological measures of exercise intensity. Eur J Appl Physiol 2013;113(1):147–155
  13. Fontes EB, Smirmaul BP, Nakamura FY, Pereira G, Okano AH, Altimari LR et al. The relationship between rating of perceived exertion and muscle activity during exhaustive constant-load cycling. Int J Sports Med 2010;31(10):683–688.
  14. Village J, Frazer M, Cohen M, Leyland A, Park I, Yassi A. Electromyography as a measure of peak and cumulative workload in intermediate care and its relationship to musculoskeletal injury: an exploratory ergonomic study. Appl Ergon 2005;36(5):609–618