When exercising it is very important that you are aware of how you are feeling as you are exercising.
Within the field of cardiac rehabilitation a scale is used from which you can then judge whether you are working at the right level or whether it is too hard, or indeed too easy.
This scale is known as a Perceived Exertion Scale. There are many scales which can be used but the two most commonly used are either a 0 – 10 scale or a 6 – 20 scale.
If you have read the article on Angina, you will recall that I make mention of the fact that physical activity is vital if you want to make improvements in your condition. I would also strongly recommend that you sign up for the free video which goes into the importance of exercising safely and gives you valuable user friendly information.
Our body tells us how we are feeling, so it is important to listen to the messages it sends us. The questions to ask yourself
- How hard am I breathing?
- Am I in any pain or discomfort?
- Can I talk if spoken to?
- Am I aware of any chest tightness or other angina symptom?
If the answer to any of those questions is either “VERY HARD” or “YES” then the intensity of the activity is too much !!
This is when using a scale which describes how you feel comes in useful. When looking at the scale below another question to ask yourself is “How long can I do this activity?” If you can only do it for a short time then it is too hard.
To get the benefits that physical activity can give you, it needs to be done for around 30 minutes or more. If whilst taking your exercise you are aware of any the symptoms of angina then stop and rest, use your GTN. Next time you exercise work at a lighter level so you are SYMPTOM FREE this way you can exercise for longer and then gain the benefits that exercise gives.
Zero on the scale equals rest, sitting or lying down, doing nothing.
1 VERY WEAK – LIKE WALKING VERY VERY SLOWLY
2 LIGHT – EASY EVERYDAY ACTIVITIES
3 MODERATE – FEELS NOT ESPECIALLY HARD, NO PROBLEMS
4 SOMEWHAT HEAVY –STARTING BREATH A LITTLE HEAVIER
5/6 HEAVY – FEELING TIRED BUT NOT HAVING ANY PROBLEMS
7 VERY HEAVY – YOU CAN STILL GO ON BUT YOU ARE NOW HAVING TO PUSH YOURSELF
8 STRONG – YOU ARE VERY TIRED AND ARE HAVING TO PUSH YOURSELF ALOT
9 VERY STRONG – VERY VERY TIRED UNABLE TO DO THIS FOR LONG
10 EXTREMELY STONG – THIS IS YOUR MAXIMUM OR THE STRONGEST INTENSITY YOU HAVE EVER EXPERIENCED.
When deciding where you are on the scale it is important to think about any discomfort or pain in legs, back or hips etc and to also think about how hard you are breathing, and how long you could do it for. Then taking all those factors into account you choose a description that matches how you feel, you can also choose half numbers as well, this will then give you the number of where you are on the scale.
Learning this scale and using it will not only keep you safe, but will also enable you to do your tasks around the house and home with confidence. If you have recently had a heart attack or are recovering from cardiac surgery then please stay at levels 1 – 2 for the first 4-6 weeks and read the other relevant articles.
So where should I be?
It is extremely important that you Warm Up before you exercise. The perception scale for warm up is 1 – 2. the video explains the hows and why’s.
When beginning an exercise programme for the first time is it strongly recommended that Moderate or 3 is the highest number that you work to for the exercise part, cooling down and returning to 1-2. Work at these levels on a regular basis for at least one month. As you get fitter you will then find that you can work a little harder. At the end of your exercise you should be feeling great, not exhausted. If you are feeling exhausted then you have worked too hard!!
BACR (British Association of Cardiac Rehabilitation)