Women with type 2 diabetes perceive harder effort during exercise than nondiabetic women

Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2009 Oct;34(5):851-7. doi: 10.1139/H09-074.


Regular exercise is a cornerstone of diabetes treatment; however, people with type 2 diabetes (T2D) are commonly sedentary. It is possible that a harder rate of perceived exertion (RPE) during exercise for those with T2D as compared with nondiabetics may be a barrier to physical activity. This study examined RPE (Borg scale, ordinal range 6-20) during submaximal exercise at identical absolute work rates to test the hypothesis that women with T2D demonstrate harder RPE during exercise than nondiabetic controls. In a prespecified analysis of existing data from equivalently sedentary women, RPE during submaximal exercise was compared among women with uncomplicated T2D (n = 13, mean body mass index (BMI) 34.2, mean hemoglobin A1c 9%), overweight controls (OC, n = 13, mean BMI 30.7), and normal-weight controls (NWC, n = 13, mean BMI 23.1). Subjects performed three 7 min, constant-load exercise tests at 20 W and 30 W. Mixed-effects general linear modeling was used to test for differences in mean RPE estimates among groups with and without adjustment for relative work intensity, age, habitual physical activity, or BMI. Subjects with T2D perceived harder effort during bicycling exercise than controls, as measured by RPE at 20 W and 30 W (p < 0.05 for T2D vs. OC and for T2D vs. NWC). Adjusting for relative work intensity eliminated significant group RPE differences at 30 W, but group RPE differences at 20 W remained significant. Harder perceived effort during exercise may be a barrier to physical activity for those with T2D.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise / psychology
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Perception / physiology*
  • Physical Exertion / physiology*