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What Is the Rated Perceived Exertion Scale?

The Rated Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale is used to measure the intensity of your exercise. The RPE scale runs from 0 to 10. The numbers below relate to phrases used to rate how easy or hard you find an activity. For example, 0 (nothing at all) would be how you feel when sitting in a chair; 10 (very, very heavy) would be how you feel at the end of an exercise stress test or after a very difficult activity.

Rated Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale

0

Nothing at all

0.5

Just noticeable

1

Very light

2

Light

3

Moderate

4

Somewhat heavy

5-6

Heavy

7-9

Very heavy

10

Very, very heavy

When starting an exercise program, you should exercise at a level that feels 3 (moderate) to 4 (somewhat heavy). When using this rating scale, remember to include feelings of shortness of breath, as well as how tired you feel in your legs and overall.

Exercise While Sitting

While performing these exercises, maintain good posture. Keep your back straight; do not curve or slump your back. Make sure your movements are controlled and slow. Avoid quick, jerking movements. Do not bounce. Do not hold your breath during these exercises.

  • Ankle pumping. Sit on the floor with your feet straight out in front of you. Keeping your heels on the floor, lift your toes up as far as you can. Hold for a count of five.
  • Knee straightening. Raise your foot to fully straighten your knee out in front of you. Hold for a count of five. Lower your foot to the floor. Repeat on other side.
  • Hip bending. Lift one knee up toward the ceiling. As you lower this knee, raise your other knee. Alternate each leg as if you were marching in place (while sitting.)
  • Overhead reaching. Raise one arm straight over your head, with your palm facing away from you. Keep your elbow straight. Slowly lower your arm to your side. Repeat with other arm.
  • Shoulder touching. Sit with your arms at your sides and your palms facing up. Bend your elbows until your hands are touching your shoulders. Lower your hands to your sides.
  • Single arm lifts. Sit with your arms at your sides, fingers pointing toward the floor. Raise one arm out to your side, keeping your elbow straight and your palm facing down. Slowly lower your arm to your side. Repeat with your other arm.
  • Shoulder shrugs. Keeping your back straight, lift your shoulders up and forward toward your ears. Release your shoulders down and back in a smooth circular motion.
  • Arm circles. Sit with your arms at your sides, fingers pointing toward the floor. Raise both arms out from your sides (about 1 or 2 feet from your body). Keeping your elbows straight and your palms facing toward you, rotate your arms in small circles.
  • Single shoulder circles. Bending one elbow, put your fingertips on your shoulder. Rotate your shoulder and elbow clockwise, then counterclockwise. Repeat with each arm.

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