For those starting out on an exercise regime, this scale will be a useful guide.
If you have a heart condition you might also want to speak to your cardiologist or cardiac rehabilitation team for more information about exercise heart rates.
Perceived exertion scale
Nothing at all
Very, very weak
Very, very strong (almost max)
How it feels
1 = ‘Very light', like walking slowly at your own pace for several minutes.
3 = Not especially hard, it feels fine, and it is no problem to continue.
5 = You are tired, but you don't have any great difficulties.
7 = You can still go on but have to push yourself hard. You are very tired.
10 = This is as hard as most people have ever experienced in their lives.
Increase your level slowly
Initially you should be working at a level of 3, gradually increasing to 5 as your exercise tolerance improves.
Some people like to use their heart rate (pulse rate) as a means of measuring how hard they are working. It is important to remember that some cardiac medications slow the heart beat, meaning your heart rate will not provide a true indication of how hard you are working.