Anyone who has visited ARC for treatment of Parkinson’s disease will be familiar with the Rate of Perceived Exertion scale, measuring the amount of effort you put in on a percentage scale (and your therapist pushing you ever upwards to that magical 80% level!).
Here are some of the reasons why we use it:
· You can take it anywhere. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world or what you’re doing. You may be cruising around the Pacific, of off on holiday to Antarctica, walking in the local park or simply unloading the dishwasher at home, but you can always use this scale to rate how hard you’re working as it doesn’t require any equipment. In the early stages this is a great way to reference to check how hard you’re working. Even for regular exercisers who use the scale regularly it’s worth reviewing every now and again to make sure you’re pushing yourself to the right level
· It’s personal to you. The scale is based on a percentage of your maximum total effort. It’s really important to remember that the movement you produce from your 80% effort level will vary from hour to hour, day to day and month to month, depending on factors such as medication, daily activities and general fitness. The amount of movement you produce from this effort level will also be different to anyone else, so don’t compare yourself to others.
· It’s an accurate reflection of how hard you are working. Research shows that people with Parkinson’s have altered heart rate and blood pressure responses to maximal exercise, which does not appear to be related to medication. This means that when you go from exercising moderately to exercising very strenuously that your heart rate does not continue to rise in the way it does in people who don’t have Parkinson’s. Therefore if you were to measure how hard you are working by heart rate alone, you may find that increasing your perceived effort from 60% to 80% results in very little change in your heart rate, despite the fact you are working much harder.
So what does 80% of your maximal effort feel like?
80% = I am powerful and Feisty and moving like a PD Warrior
DiFrancisco‐Donoghue, J., Elokda, A., Lamberg, E. M., Bono, N., & Werner, W. G. (2009). Norepinephrine and cardiovascular responses to maximal exercise in Parkinson’s disease on and off medication. Movement Disorders,24 (12), 1773-1778.
Nakamura, T., Hirayama, M., Yamashita, F., Uchida, K., Hama, T., Watanabe, H., & Sobue, G. (2010). Lowered cardiac sympathetic nerve performance in response to exercise in Parkinson’s disease. Movement Disorders, 25 (9), 1183-1189.