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Are you working out as hard as you think you are?

OK! Body & Soul 2014 at The Casa Del Mar Hotel
OK! Body & Soul 2014 at The Casa Del Mar Hotel
Photo by Chelsea Lauren

The term for how hard you think you are working out is perceived exertion, and since the intensity of your work out can greatly impact the results you see, the American College of Sports Medicine or ACSM recommends knowing the RPE scale or “Rate of Perceived Exertion” scale.
You have probably seen that graph sticker on your step-machine, elliptical, treadmill, or stationary bike. If it went from 6 to 20 and had the word exertion somewhere on it it was the Borg scale.
The Borg scale, developed in 1985 by Swedish psychologist Gunnar Borg, helps athletes fine tune their exertional responses according to the ACSM.
“One’s perception of physical exertion is a subjective assessment that incorporates information from the internal and external environment of the body,” stated a release by the ACSM. “The greater the frequency of these signals, the more intense are the perceptions of physical exertion. In addition, response from muscles and joints helps to scale and calibrate central motor outflow commands.”
Basically, if you consciously try to bring more intensity to your work out, it will become a habit to do so and therefore easier.
Another way athletes and those interested in weight loss gauge their work out success is whether they reached a certain heart rate and how long they held that heart rate there according to the ACSM.
But it is not always possible to measure heart rate accurately. For instance, a heart rate may not be a good measurement of intensity if a person is on medication that alters their heart rate.
“A question is sometimes raised as to whether the intensity produced based on perceptual ratings is actually what it is supposed to be,” stated the ACSM. “Several recent studies have attempted to answer this question. These studies have used oxygen uptake as an objective variable and found no difference between the oxygen uptake that was estimated from the prior test results and oxygen uptake that was produced during a subsequent workout. This finding suggests that using a target RPE as a guide to regulate exercise intensity is valid.”
If you are not seeing the results that you think you should be, maybe it is time to up the intensity or take another look at your nutrition.
It is always a good idea to consult a doctor before starting a new exercise routine especially if you have been sedentary for a long time, have just given birth, have a heart condition, are on blood thinners, take medication for high blood pressure, are diabetic, or are unsure about your current health according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC.