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The Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) helps you measure how hard you feel like you’re working while you’re exercising.


What Is Exertion?

When you move your body it takes effort. Exertion is the effort you make to move your body. For example, when people use more effort to run than to walk, their level of exertion is greater.


How Can I Get a Sense of My Exertion?

When you exercise, your physical therapist will ask you to rate how much effort you think you’re using. You will need to get a sense of how hard and exhausting the exercise feels. Think about all the feelings of physical effort and fatigue. Try to focus on the total feeling of exertion.


How Do I Rate My Exertion?

Look at the rating scale on the right as you’re exercising. The levels range from six to 20: Six means no exertion at all (least effort) and 20 means the most exertion (maximum effort).

How hard do you feel like you’re working? Choose the number that best describes your level of exertion. This number will give a scaled estimate of your activity’s intensity level. This helps your therapist decide what range of exertion would be ideal for you.


Does It Matter How I Compare With Other People?

No. Don’t compare yourself to other people. Try to assess how you are feeling as honestly as possible. Your individual or personal perception of effort and exertion are what’s important.


The Borg Category Rating Scale

Least effort


7      very, very light


9      very light


11     fairly light                     Endurance Training Zone


13     somewhat hard


15     hard                            Strength Training Zone


17     very hard


19     very, very hard


Maximum effort

Borg RPE scale  © Gunnar Borg, 1970, 1985, 1994, 1998

This information is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace the advice of your health care providers. If you have any questions, talk with your doctor or others on your health care team. If you are a Gillette patient with urgent questions or concerns, please contact Telehealth Nursing at 651-229-3890.