European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 92, Issue 4–5, pp 431–436 | Cite as

Perceived speech difficulty during exercise and its relation to exercise intensity and physiological responses

  • A. Rotstein
  • Y. Meckel
  • O. InbarEmail author
Original Article


The aim of this study was to establish how ratings of perceived speech production difficulty (PSPD) during exercise of varying intensities are correlated with various physiological responses, in order to determine whether the PSPD is suitable for prescribing exercise training intensity. An incremental running test was performed to establish the subjects’ maximal oxygen consumption (O2max) and ventilatory anaerobic threshold (VAT). During the test, the subjects were asked to read a written text. The subjects graded their PSPD at each stage of the test using a 13-level PSPD scale. Throughout the test, various cardiopulmonary parameters were measured breath-by-breath. Regressions ofO2, heart rate (HR), and pulmonary ventilation (E), all as percentages of their respective measured maximal values, plotted as a function of PSPD showed that the overall associations among those variables are strong and statistically significant (P<0.05). However, the individual variability within each relativeO2,E or HR was found to be rather large. The subjects’ distribution in relation to their PSPD at the VAT scattered widely across the PSPD scale. These results indicate that estimating exercise intensity by measuring speech difficulty is not valid. Thus it may be assumed that the “talk test”, in its present non-standardized form, is a questionable substitute for the anaerobic threshold, HR, or for any other objective physiological measure for prescribing individual training exercise intensity.


Perceived speech production difficulty Exercise prescription Ventilation Anaerobic threshold Talk test 



The authors would like to extend their gratitude to Mrs. Michal Arnon and Mrs. Aviva Zeev for their assistance in the data analysis, and Mrs. Hinda Arenburg and Annat Shaar for their help in the laboratory work. Thanks are also extended to the subjects who participated in the study. We declare that the experiments complied with the current relevant laws and regulations imposed in Israel.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Life Sciences, Zinman CollegeWingate InstituteNataniaIsrael

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