Changes in Ratings of Perceived Exertion and Psychological Affect in the Early Stages of Exercise

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The purpose of this study was to examine differences in the rating of perceived exertion (RPE) and affect, as assessed by a bipolar feeling scale (FS) during cycle ergometry in a steady-state and a nonsteady-state condition in active and inactive individuals. 71 subjects completed a self-report questionnaire on physical activity and were assigned to two groups, a low-active group of 16 men and 18 women and a high-active group of 18 men and 19 women. On Day 1 all subjects completed a sub-maximal exercise test to predict maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max) from which work rates corresponding to 60% and 90% VO2max were calculated. On Day 2 half of the subjects completed a work rate equivalent to 60% VO2max whilst the other half completed a 90% VO2max work rate. On Day 3 alternative work rates were completed. RPE and FS were recorded after 2 and 4 min. at each work rate on both days. Mixed-model, 4-factor (gender x group x work rate x time) analyses of variance with repeated measures on work rate and time were conducted on the FS and RPE data. RPE was higher after 4 min. at both intensities, and there was a greater increase in RPE between 2 and 4 min. at the 90% than the 60% work rate. Rated feeling was more positive at the 60% work rate, high-active subjects were more positive than low-active subjects and rated feeling was lower in Minute 4 for both groups. The following interactions were observed: rated feeling was more negative after 4 min. for the low-active group compared to the high-active group at 2 and 4 min. and the low-active group reported more negative feeling at the 90% work rate compared to the 60% work rate while the high-active group did not change significantly. Timing of the RPE is important if used to prescribe exercise intensity. Further, low-active subjects should be encouraged to exercise at moderate intensities and discouraged from focusing on how they feel immediately before they finish a session.

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