Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 263171
Loughborough University

Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport


Athlete 1

Subjective Ratings of Perceived Exertion (RPE) offer the potential to monitor and regulate upper body exercise intensity. This has implications for both exercise testing and exercise prescription, particularly in people with spinal cord injury (SCI).

However practitioners and people with SCI currently only have very low confidence in the evidence for using RPE to self-monitor exercise intensity. This project is investigating the validity and reliability of using RPE to measure exercise intensity by comparing it to other validated (but more expensive and technically complex) methods. An RPE-guided maximal test could also be used by researchers and practitioners to measure maximal oxygen uptake during upper body exercise in able-bodied people.

Institutions / organisations and researchers

Loughborough University

Prof Vicky Tolfrey

Michael Hutchinson

Dr Tom Paulson

Dr Jan van der Scheer

University of South Australia

Professor Roger Eston

University of British Columbia (Canada)

Professor Kathleen Martin Ginis

McMaster University (Canada)

Professor Maureen MacDonald


The first systematic literature review on reliability and validity on RPE to self-monitor exercise intensity in persons with a SCI showed that there are currently only seven studies available, of which most have methodological drawbacks.

We have demonstrated that a maximal, self-regulated exercise test is a valid and reliable tool for measuring maximal oxygen uptake during handcycle exercise in able-bodied participants – this was presented at BASES 2016 annual conference.