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Rehab Measures

Rehabilitation Measure

Borg Rating Scale of Perceived Exertion

Last Updated


The Borg Scale is used as a means to determine intensity of exercise

Acronym RPE

Area of Assessment

Aerobic Capacity

Assessment Type




Key Descriptions

  • A 15-point category scale with verbal descriptors to standardize perceived exertion across tasks and individuals.
  • Instructions for use:  scale used to rate how hard person is working, explain 6=rest, 20=absolute maximum, grade effort using numbers and/or words.
  • Used as a measure for training intensity and outcomes for exercise - parallels physiological variables.
  • Many authors suggest carying afferent input to RPE but as yet there is no consensus in the literature as to what they are/what their effects may be (Hampson et al '01).
  • For any individual capable of exercising.

Number of Items


Equipment Required

  • Printed copy of 6-20 scale with numbers and words for descriptors.

Time to Administer

Time for initial explanation and instant feedback from patient. 

Required Training

No Training

Age Ranges

Preschool Child

2 - 5



6 - 12



13 - 17



18 - 64


Elderly adult

65 +


Instrument Reviewers

Developed by:  Gayatri Mathur, PT

Updated by:  Jill Smiley, MPH

ICF Domain

Body Function


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Non-Specific Patient Population

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Standard Error of Measurement (SEM)

Well-trained Males:  (Doherty, 2001; n=15; 30s of the subpraximal run for each test)

  • 30 seconds:  SEM = 0.79 (0.49-1.16)
  • 60 seconds:  SEM = 0.78 (0.50-1.12)
  • 90 seconds:  SEM = 0.80 (0.51-0.99)
  • 120 seconds:  SEM = 0.76 (0.47-0.93)

Test/Retest Reliability

Frail older adults:

  • (Mendelssohn et al, 2008)
    • HR & METs ICC=0.85-0.91

Interrater/Intrarater Reliability

Interrater Reliability:


In Braille:

  • (Buckley et al, 2000)

    • interrater reliability: good

Adolescent females:

  • (Pfeiffer, 2002)

    • ICC=0.78

Intrarater Reliability:


Healthy subjects:

  • (Eston et al, 2006)

    • Predicted VO2 max from RPE ICC 0.66-0.95

    • No gender differences

  • (Lamb et al, 1999)
    • ICC = 0.75-0.82
  • (Eston and Williams, 1988)
    • Between trials ICC=0.83 or higher

Criterion Validity (Predictive/Concurrent)

Concurrent Validity:

RPE accross the Lifespan:

(Groslambert and Mahon, 2006)

  • Children 3-7 years; poor

  • 8-12 years; variable

  • 13+ years similar to adults - good to excellent

  • 50-65, >65 no significant age effect on validity


Groslambert, A. & Mahon, A.D. (2006). "Perceived exertion : influence of age and cognitive development." Sports Medicine 36:911-28. Find it on PubMed.

Eston, R. G. & Thompson, M. (1997). "Use of ratings of perceived exertion for predicting maximal work rate and prescribing exercise intensity in patients taking atenolol." British Journal of Sports Medicine 31:114-119. Find it on PubMed.

Eston, R.G., Faulkner, J.A., Mason, E.A., Parfitt, G. (2006). "The validity of predicting maximal oxygen uptake from perceptually regulated graded exercise tests of different durations." European Journal of Applied Physiology 97:535-41. Find it on PubMed.

Lamb, K. L., Eston, R.G. & Corns, D. (2006). "Reliability of ratings of perceived exertion during progressive treadmill exercise." British Journal of Sports Medicine 33:336-339. Find it on PubMed.

Doherty, M., Smith, P.M., Hughes, M.G., Collins, D. (2001). "Rating of perceived exertion during high-intensity treadmill running." Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 33:1953-8. Find it on PubMed.

Mendelsohn, M.E., Connelly, D.M., Overend, T.J., Petrella, R.J. (2008). "Validity of values for metabolic equivalents of task during submaximal all-extremity exercise and reliability of exercise responses in frail older adults." Physical Therapy 88:747-56. Find it on PubMed.

Buckley, J.P., Eston, R.G., Sim, J. (2000). "Ratings of perceived exertion in braille: validity and reliability in production mode." British Journal of Sports Medicine 34:297-302. Find it on PubMed.

Pfeiffer, K.A., Pivarnik, J.M., Womack, C.J., Reeves, M.J., Malina, R.M. (2002). "Ratings of perceived exertion in braille: validity and reliability in production mode." Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 34:2057-61. Find it on PubMed.


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