Stroke Prevention Exercise Program (S-PEP): The Borg Scale of Perceived Exertion

The Comprehensive Stroke and Rehabilitation Services programs at UW Hospital and Clinics have partnered to create a special exercise program for people who have had strokes. The Stroke Prevention Exercise Program or "S-PEP" has been designed to give you safe and fun exercise options to help prevent new strokes.


The Borg Scale is a simple tool to help you rate your level of effort when exercising—how hard you feel you are exercising. Your goal range of effort for all workouts is 13-14 (somewhat hard).


How you might describe your effort
Rating of your effort
Ideas to help you rate your effort
Reading a book or watching TV
Very, very light
 7 to 8
Tying shoes
Very light
 9 to 10
Household chores that seem to take little effort
Fairly light
11 to 12
Activities that require some effort but not enough to speed up your breathing
Somewhat hard
13 to 14
Workouts that require moderate effort and
speed your heart rate and breathing but
do not make you out of breath
15 to 16 
Workouts that take a lot of effort and get the heart pounding and make breathing very fast
Very hard
17 to 18 
The highest level of effort you can sustain
Very, very hard
19 to 20 
A burst of effort that you cannot maintain for long


Modified from: Borg G.A. (1982). Psychophysical bases of perceived exertion. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 14, 377-381.


Note: Review Signs of Exercising Too Hard and Exercise Safeguards before all workouts.