Regulating exercise intensity when heart-rate based prescription is compromised

  • Roy J. Shephard
Keywords: Borg scale, Cardiac transplantation, Effort perception, Exercise prescription, Walking speed


Background: Clinical conditions such as beta-blockade, cardiac conduction defects, use of a cardiac pacemaker, and cardiac transplantation preclude use of heart rate to regulate the intensity of prescribed exercise.

Purpose: To evaluate the suggestion that Borg's RPE may provide a valid alternative, and to weigh possible alternatives.

Methods: A brief review of factors modifying RPE, and an analysis of RPE data obtained in patients following cardiac transplantation.

Results: Many factors modify an individual's perceptions of effort, and in consequence simply exercising to a fixed RPE can result in either too low an intensity to induce the required training, or a dangerously high intensity of exercise.

Conclusions: RPE does not provide a safe method of regulating exercise after cardiac transplantation. A better alternative is to establish the individual's oxygen cost of walking, and to prescribe a set walking distance to be covered in a set time, reserving the RPE for a fine-tuning of this prescription

Author Biography

Roy J. Shephard
Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education, University of Toronto
How to Cite
Shephard, R. (2016). Regulating exercise intensity when heart-rate based prescription is compromised. The Health & Fitness Journal of Canada, 8(2), 29-31.