Daily Health Advisors

Huffing, Puffing, Panting -- Perceived Exertion

August 3, 2017


We now know that diet and lifestyle can lower your total risk for developing chronic disease and exercise is important. We also know that high intensity interval training is the best exercise and you should use what we call — perceived exertion to gauge how you exercise. When you exercise think about YOUR perceived exertion (PE)!We now know that diet and lifestyle can lower your total risk for developing chronic disease and exercise is important. We also know that high intensity interval training is the best exercise and you should use what we call — perceived exertion to gauge how you exercise. When you exercise think about YOUR perceived exertion (PE)!

Perceived Exertion

When exercising, it’s important to monitor your intensity to make sure you’re working at a pace that is challenging enough to help you reach your goals, but not so hard that you collapse. I often tell patients to exercise at high intensity during their workouts.  Sometimes I will tell them, “walk fast, like you are being chased!”.  Another way to say it is — walk so fast you couldn’t carry on a conversation with someone walking with you.   Try using the BEST Program Perceived Exertion Scale. The standard is the Borg Scale of Perceived Exertion, which ranges from 0-20. I decided to make it more basic and simple (see below) — I think it is a little easier to remember. In general, for most workouts you want to be at around Level 5-6. If you’re doing interval training (especially to gain muscle and lose fat), you want your recovery to be around a 4-5 and your intensity blasts to be at around 8-9. Working at a level 10 isn’t recommended for most workouts. For longer, slower workouts, keep your BEST Program PE at Level 5 or lower.

• Level 1: I’m on the sofa, watching TV and eating Cheetos

• Level 2: I’m comfortable and could maintain this pace all day long

• Level 3: I’m still comfortable, but am breathing a bit harder

• Level 4: I’m sweating a little, but feel good and can carry on a conversation effortlessly

• Level 5: I’m just above comfortable, am sweating more and can still talk easily

• Level 6: I can still talk, but am slightly breathless

• Level 7: I can still talk, but I don’t really want to. I’m sweating like crazy

• Level 8: I can grunt in response to your questions and can only keep this pace for a short while

• Level 9: I am probably going to collapse

• Level 10: I am going to die!

The BEST thing to remember is this exertion scale can be adapted to  any workout.  I use it most often for treadmill workouts. You may find it helpful during your outdoor walking/ running.  I sometimes apply this for swimmers who like to lap swim and anyone who has ever seen swimmers do sprints in the pool have seen the level 7-9 sprints they do in the pool to gain their competitive edge.
Other workouts where you can apply this exertion scale are stairclimbing, cycling, elliptical workouts and jumping rope.
Stay motivated!  It is another key to keeping your eye on the prize — which is your BEST health, looking better and feeling better.

Don Fisher D.O.
Medical Director/ Physician
The BEST Program, Inc.
www.TheBestProgram.net

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