Impact of Direction of Unloading Influence on Template Rate of Perceived Exertion

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It is suggested that exercisers engage in a process of teleoanticipation and create an exercise template based upon previous experience with the exercise task which guides their perceptions of the amount of effort required for task completion. The present study examined how altering workload intensity during a positive-pressure treadmill task may impact ratings of perceived exertion (RPE). In a counter-balanced design, 15 collegiate cross country runners (7 males, 8 females) performed two 25-min runs at a constant velocity while bodyweight (BW) was either increased from 60% to 100% (INC) or decreased from 100% to 60% (DEC) in 5 min increments. Oxygen consumption (VO2), heart rate (HR), and respiratory exchange ratio (RER) were collected. RPE was recorded at the end of each stage, and energy expenditure (EE) was calculated with VO2 and RER data. There were no significant differences between direction of loading conditions for VO2, EE, HR, and RER (p > 0.05). Between-trial differences in RPE at 100%, 90%, 80% BW were statistically significant (p < 0.001) with higher RPEs observed during the INC trial. Differences in RPE observed between conditions cannot be explained by physiological mechanisms. These findings suggest that RPE is a multifaceted construct which can be impacted by subjectively based anticipatory factors such as exercise intensity.

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