What is the Borg Scale?

The Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) is a way of measuring physical activity intensity levels. Perceived exertion is how hard you feel like your body is working. It is based on the physical sensations a person experiences during physical activity, including increased heart rate, increased respiration or breathing rate, increased sweating and muscle fatigue.

The Borg Scale is used to gauge your level of shortness of breath, also called dyspnea.
According to Borg (1998), although this is a subjective measure, a person’s exertion rating may provide a fairly good estimate of the actual heart rate during physical activity.

The Borg RPE numbers range from 6 to 20. A rating of “6” indicates the least amount of effort, and “20” denotes the most effort. Before, during and after exercise, rate yourself on the scale below. It is recommended that you stay between “6 and 13” while exercising.

The Borg scale in more detail:

  • 9 corresponds to “very light” exercise. For a healthy person, it is like walking slowly at his or her own pace for some minutes.
  • 13 on the scale is “somewhat hard” exercise, but it still feels okay to continue.
  • 17 corresponds to “very hard” and is very strenuous. A healthy person can still go on, but he really has to push himself. It feels very heavy, and the person is very tired.
  • 19 on the scale is an extremely strenuous exercise level. For most people, this is the most strenuous exercise they have ever experienced.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.