Regulating intensity using perceived exertion in spinal cord-injured participants

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010 Mar;42(3):608-13. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181b72cbc.


Purpose: To examine the validity of perception-based intensity regulation during handcycling exercise.

Methods: Eight spinal cord-injured (T11 incomplete to T4 complete) participants completed an incremental exercise test followed by a (.)VO2peak test using a sports hand bike. Subsequently, two 20-min exercise tests were completed at an individualized power output (PO) at moderate and vigorous intensities (50% and 70% of (.)VO2peak, respectively). On a separate occasion, participants were instructed to produce and maintain a workload equivalent to the average RPE for the 20-min imposed condition in a counterbalanced order. The (.)VO2 and blood lactate concentration [BLa(-)] were measured every 10 min, and HR and PO were measured at 1-min intervals.

Results: There were no differences in average (.)VO2, percent V O2peak, HR, PO, and [BLa(-)] between the imposed PO conditions and RPE-regulated trials of either exercise intensity. Although PO increased slightly during the moderate-intensity RPE-regulated trial (P < 0.04), it remained relatively constant in the vigorous RPE-regulated trial. However, there was a tendency for PO to be slightly higher (P = 0.07) in the vigorous RPE-regulated trial.

Conclusions: These data suggest that RPE is effective in controlling moderate and vigorous intensities throughout a 20-min handcycling exercise session for SCI participants.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Equipment Design
  • Exercise Test*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / methods
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Perception*
  • Physical Exertion / physiology*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / rehabilitation
  • Sports Equipment
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Wheelchairs
  • Young Adult