Borg Scale of Perceived Exertion with Exercise


The “Borg Scale for Rating of Perceived Exertion“ is a useful way of checking the intensity of your exercise program. The scale is also helpful when you are trying to manage a limited amount of energy to complete your daily actions.

Using the Borg Scale of Perceived Exertion, you can learn to monitor your performance and intensity. This will pace your effort and help you maintain a moderate level of exertion. Exercising or working at moderate levels will help you to increase your exercise endurance and improve your lung function. The Borg Scale helps you recognize when you are exerting at a level that may put you at risk for injury. Learning to use the Borg Scale of Perceived Exertion does not require any special skills or equipment. The scale lets you keep your exercise pace without having to stop to take your pulse rate.

While you are exercising, try to estimate how hard you feel the work is. Rate the degree of perceived exertion you feel. Include the total amount of exertion and physical fatigue.

Don’’t concern yourself with any one factor such as leg pain, shortness of breath or how hard the work is. Try to concentrate on your total, inner feeling of exertion. Estimate your exertion as honestly and neutrally as possible. Rate your perception of the exertion using the Borg Scale. Your goal is to keep a rating between 3 and 4 on the scale.

You may feel that you cannot coordinate your breathing to reduce shortness of breath. Or you may have aches and pains longer than 20 to 30 minutes after your exercise session. If so you will need to slow your pace down to 1 or 2 on the scale.

Note: Stay between 3 and 4 on the scale unless otherwise instructed.

Borg Rating Perceived Exertion Scale
0 Nothing at all
0.5 Very, very weak (just noticeable)
1 Very weak
2 Weak (light)
3 Moderate
4 Somewhat strong
5 Strong (heavy)
6 -
7 Very Strong
8 -
9 -
10 Maximal

Modified Borg Scale for Perceived Dyspnea (Shortness of Breath)

The “Rating of Perceived Dyspnea (RPD) Scale“ is used during exercise or tasks to decide the amount of shortness of breath you are having. You say how hard you are breathing on a scale of 0 to 10. On the scale, 0 is “no shortness of breath.“ A 10 represents “so much shortness of breath that you have to stop the activity.“


Using the RPD scale will help you be aware of how short of breath you are during a specific activity.

As your strength and endurance improve with exercise, you will note that your feelings of being breathless will decrease. In addition, you will note that all daily activities require less energy. Your actions will not be limited by breathlessness.

Modified Borg Rating Scale for Perceived Dyspnea
0 Nothing at all
0.5 Very, very slight shortness of breath
1 Very mild shortness of breath
2 Mild shortness of breath
3 Moderate shortness of breath or breathing difficulty
4 Somewhat severe
5 Strong or hard breathing
6 -
7 Severe shortness of breath or very hard breathing
8 -
9 Extremely severe
10 Shortness of breath so severe you need to stop

If you are in a formal pulmonary rehab program, RPD scores can be compared to the measurement of oxygen during training sessions. This is an effective way to get you to trust your perceptions against the measures taken by oximetry. Small, portable finger oximeters are now available commercially.

However, without any expense to you, the RPD scale can be used to monitor shortness of breath so you can pace activities successfully.

WebMD Medical Reference from the COPD Foundation
© 2010 COPD Foundation