An index for breathlessness and leg fatigue

Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2010 Aug;20(4):644-50. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.2009.00985.x. Epub 2009 Jul 2.


The features of perceived symptoms causing discontinuation of strenuous exercise have been scarcely studied. The aim was to characterize the two main symptoms causing the discontinuation of heavy work in healthy persons as well as describe the growth of symptoms during exercise. Breathlessness (b) and leg fatigue (l) were assessed using the Borg CR10 Scale and the Borg CR100 (centiMax) Scale, during a standardized exercise test in 38 healthy subjects (24-71 years). The b/l-relationships were calculated for terminal perceptions (ERI(b/l)), and the growth of symptoms determined by power functions for the whole test, as well as by growth response indexes (GRI). This latter index was constructed as a ratio between power levels corresponding to a very strong and a moderate perception. In the majority (71%) of the test subjects, leg fatigue was the dominant symptom at the conclusion of exercise (P<0.001) and the b/l ratio was 0.77 (CR10) and 0.75 (CR100), respectively. The GRI for breathlessness and leg fatigue was similar, with good correlations between GRI and the power function exponent (P<0.005). In healthy subjects, leg fatigue is the most common cause for discontinuing an incremental exercise test. The growth functions for breathlessness and leg fatigue during work are, however, almost parallel.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Dyspnea / physiopathology*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise Test / methods
  • Fatigue / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leg*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Perception
  • Young Adult