Perceived exertion related to heart rate and blood lactate during arm and leg exercise

Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1987;56(6):679-85. doi: 10.1007/BF00424810.


To compare some psychophysiological responses to arm exercise with those to leg exercise, an experiment was carried out on electronically braked bicycle ergometers, one being adapted for arm exercise. Eight healthy males took part in the experiment with stepwise increases in exercise intensity every 4 min: 40-70-100-150-200 W in cycling and 20-35-50-70-100 W in arm cranking. Towards the end of each 4 min period, ratings of perceived exertion were obtained on the RPE scale and on a new category ratio (CR) scale:heart rate (HR) and blood lactate accumulation (BL) were also measured. The responses obtained were about twice as high or more for arm cranking than for cycling. The biggest difference was found for BL and the smallest for HR and RPE. The incremental functions were similar in both activities, with approximately linear increases in HR and RPE and positively accelerating functions for CR (exponents about 1.9) and BL (exponents 2.5 and 3.3 respectively). When perceived exertion (according to the CR scale) was set as the dependent variable and a simple combination of HR and BL was used as the independent variable, a linear relationship was obtained for both kinds of exercise, as has previously been found in cycling, running, and walking. The results thus give support for the following generalization: For exercise of a steady state type with increasing loads the incremental curve for perceived exertion can be predicted from a simple combination of HR and BL.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arm / physiology*
  • Bicycling
  • Heart Rate*
  • Humans
  • Lactates / blood*
  • Leg / physiology*
  • Male
  • Physical Exertion*


  • Lactates