Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Lox, Curt

Degree Name

M.S. Ed. (Master of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Physical Education


Aerobic exercises; Heart--Diseases--Patients--Rehabilitation


It was the purpose of this study to determine if Phase lll-IV cardiac rehabilitation participants, currently enrolled in a formal exercise program, could accurately self-monitor exercise intensity through the use of the heart rate (HR) palpation technique and the rating of perceived exertion scale (RPE). In addition, actual HRs were examined to determine if participants were exercising within their prescribed target heart rate (THR) range. One hundred and sixty-one (119 men, 42 women; mean age = 64.8 + 9.2 years) cardiac rehabilitation patients participated in the study. Each participant performed their usual exercise routine on aerobic equipment (treadmill, bicycle, stairmaster, or rower) for 20 minutes, while wearing a HR monitor. At 10 and 15 minutes of exercise, participants reported their 10-second palpated HR and an RPE rating. At 10 minutes of exercise, mean palpated HR was 100.8 + 18.6 beats per minute (bpm) and mean actual HR was 102.7 + 17.1 bpm. At 15 minutes of exercise mean palpated HR was 105.9 ? 19.2 bpm and mean actual HR was 106.4 + 18.4 bpm. No significant differences existed between actual HR and palpated HR at either time point (t mini0 =1.83, p=.069; t mini5 = 57, p=.571). Actual HR and palpated HR were positively correlated at 10 minutes of exercise (r=.73, p< 0001, SEE=11.7 bpm) and at 15 minutes of exercise (r=83, p<.0001, SEE=10.3 bpm). Low correlations were found between RPE and actual HR (r minio =.21, p<.007; r mjni5 =.15, p=.050) and RPE and palpated HR (r min10 =.28, p< 0001; r min15 = .20, p=.011) at both time points. When actual HR was compared to THR, 16 participants exceeded their prescribed THR (11-20 bpm), 82 participants fell below their THR (15-26 bpm), and 25 participants were exercising within their THR. The group that exceeded their THR, as well as the group that exercised below their THR had mean RPE ratings of 11 and the group that was exercising within their THR had a mean RPE of 12. The results of this study suggest that Phase lll-IV cardiac rehabilitation participants can accurately palpate their exercise pulse rates. The results also indicate that the majority of the participants misperceived their exercise intensity, and therefore, does not support the use of the RPE scale in this population.


Includes bibliographical references.


65 pages




Northern Illinois University

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