British Lung Foundation
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Walk Test

Going for a walk test this Wednesday and thought it would help looking back at blogs about how it goes because I am new to this it is hard to understand (hope for help with this) what is being said.

In this blog they asked Marie about the Borg scale (short of breath in a search about it) I have not used this before so it is difficult to know how that should be answered, gets worse though in this blog the post from Aunty Mary says oxygen is not about short of breath, when I have just found out about Borg it does not matter or does it , why do they ask. Going round in circles lost hope it gets cleared up before the test then I will be able to answer properly.

8 Replies

Hi Bluebadger

I hadn't heard of the Borg scale but its nothing to worry about. It's like that scale of pain you see on reality tv shows. 0 is not breathless at all and it goes up to extremely breathless or something like that. They ask you to place yourself on the scale at the beginning and end of your test. They also count how many breaths you take in the minute before and the minute after, your BP, heartrate and SATs. I was sent because I was concerned that my oxygen levels were dropping when I exercised. As for SOB being not related to O2 levels I'm afraid I can't help, just assume that because our lungs don't work as well as healthy folk the oxygen doesn't transfer as efficiently.

Good luck - still not had my results but it wasn't as bad I thought it would be.

Marie x


Borg Percieved Exertion Scale

*A high correlation exists between a person's perceived exertion rating times 10 and

the actual heart rate during physical activity; so a person's exertion rating may provide

a fairly good estimate of the actual heart rate during activity (Borg, 1998). For

example, if a person's rating of perceived exertion (RPE) is 12, then 12 x 10 = 120; so

the heart rate should be approximately 120 beats per minute. Note that this calculation

is only an approximation of heart rate, and the actual heart rate can vary quite a bit

depending on age and physical condition. The Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion is also

the preferred method to assess intensity among those individuals who take medications

that affect heart rate or pulse.

How to Use the Perceived Exertion Scale

While doing physical activity, we want you to rate your perception of exertion. This

feeling should reflect how heavy and strenuous the exercise feels to you, combining all

sensations and feelings of physical stress, effort, and fatigue. Do not concern yourself

with any one factor such as leg pain or shortness of breath, but try to focus on your

total feeling of exertion.

Look at the rating scale below while you are engaging in an activity; it ranges from 6 to

20, where 6 means "no exertion at all" and 20 means "maximal exertion." Choose the

number from below that best describes your level of exertion. This will give you a good

idea of the intensity level of your activity, and you can use this information to speed up

or slow down your movements to reach your desired range.

Try to appraise your feeling of exertion as honestly as possible, without thinking about

what the actual physical load is. Your own feeling of effort and exertion is important,

not how it compares to other people's. Look at the scales and the expressions and then

give a number.

6 -No exertion at all

7 -Extremely light


9 -Very light - (easy walking slowly at a comfortable pace)


11 -Light


13 -Somewhat hard (It is quite an effort; you feel tired but can continue)


15 -Hard (heavy)


17 -Very hard (very strenuous, and you are very fatigued)


19 -Extremely hard (You can not continue for long at this pace)

20 -Maximal exertion

Therapy in Your home - (408) 358-0201


The 'Adaptied Borg scale' used by Respatiory Physio is normally somewhat different using a scale of 0 to 10 but it will be explained before the walk test begins.


Modified Borg Scale for Perceived Dyspnea (Shortness of Breath)

The “Rating of Perceived Dyspnea (RPD) Scale“ is used during exercise or tasks to decide the amount of shortness of breath you are having. You say how hard you are breathing on a scale of 0 to 10. On the scale, 0 is “no shortness of breath.“ A 10 represents “so much shortness of breath that you have to stop the activity.“

Using the RPD scale will help you be aware of how short of breath you are during a specific activity.

As your strength and endurance improve with exercise, you will note that your feelings of being breathless will decrease. In addition, you will note that all daily activities require less energy. Your actions will not be limited by breathlessness.


Borg Rating Scale for Perceived Dyspnea


Nothing at all


Very, very slight shortness of breath


Very mild shortness of breath


Mild shortness of breath


Moderate shortness of breath or breathing difficulty


Somewhat severe


Strong or hard breathing




Severe shortness of breath or very hard breathing




Extremely severe


Shortness of breath so severe you need to stop

taken from

a where fuller explaination can be found.

Best wishes

Jo :-)


Thanks Jo

Thats the one I was asked to give my view on.



Oxygen is not about shortness of breath, I am on it and it helps other organs in the body that need oxygen in the blood supply to them. If your body is short of oxygen it can damage the organs, but don't worry if you aren't on it you don't need it!


Hi ther bluebadger,

I went to hospital and had my 6 minute walk test, I was sent for it by my respiritory therapist, it was to see if oxygen would help me. It was`nt anything to worry about. the respiritory specialist explained what was going to happen, he placed the oxymeter on my finger to check my oxygen levels, having recorded them I was then asked to walk (3 minutes out and 3 minute back) down a corridor at my own pace and being accompanied by another theripist, my oxygen levels were read again, although they had dropped they returned to `normal` for me within the alloted time. the second time I was asked to do the same walk but this time using oxygen, my oxygen levels were read again and timed to see how quick they returned to `normal`. It was decided from the readings that I ought to use oxygen when I exercise.

I hope my explanation has helped, Don`t worry and take your time it won`t be a race.

Good luck Keep in touch



Very grateful for all this help and re-assurance the charts have given a clearer understanding of where I should place my self (not always easy to think when breathing is hard work) before and after the walk.

Will stop worrying about the why and concentrate on doing the best walk possible for therapists taking the readings.

Will blog when the test is done, thank you all again


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