Competition between internal and external sources of information during exercise: influence on RPE and the impact of the exercise load

Document Type


Department or Administrative Unit

Nutrition Exercise and Health Sciences

Publication Date



Background. The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of the exercise setting on perceived exertion during sustained low and high intensity cycling exercise.

Methods. Thirteen untrained males completed 415-min cycling sessions at 50%VO2peak and at 80%VO2peak under each of the following conditions: control, sensory deprived, video, and music. Ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) from Borg's 6-20 scale and heart rate (HR) were recorded at 5 min intervals during all sessions.

Results. RPE increased with exercise duration at both intensities and, as expected, was substantially higher at the harder workload. Exercising to music resulted in significantly lower RPE when compared to all other conditions at both the low and high workloads, while RPE was higher in the sensory deprived condition when compared to the other 3 conditions. However, RPE was similar for the control and video conditions at both workloads. A significant ordinal interaction existed between conditions and exercise duration during the low but not the high workload. While HR was higher for the harder workload and increased during each workload as a function of exercise duration, it was not different among the 4 conditions at either workload.

Conclusions. Varying the type of sensory information available to the exercising individual did influence perceptual responses to the exercise with the degree of influence dependent on the intensity and duration of the exercise. These results are consistent with information processing models that suggest a limited capacity to attend to the information available. The type of information available, the work intensity, and the work duration were important elements influencing perceptual responses to exercise.


This article was originally published in Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness. The article from the publisher can be found here.

Due to copyright restrictions, this article is not available for free download from ScholarWorks @ CWU.


Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness


Copyright © 2002 Edizioni Minerva Medica