Experienced riders will often say they can ride on ?feel? ? they know how hard they are trying by listening to the feedback their bodies give them. Research from the University of Exeter supports the idea that we all have our own in-built exercise monitors.

Studies over the last two years have shown a close correlation between actual and perceived exertion in people of all levels of fitness. The research team found that an individual?s own sense of how hard he or she is working corresponds exactly with actual level of exertion, measured by heart rate and oxygen uptake.

The experiments involved people being asked to exercise at various levels of intensity on a scale of six to 20, with six being completely inactive and 20 being on the verge of exhaustion. Exertion was determined by the individual making a judgement on how hard to work based on his or her interpretation of the scale. The researchers simultaneously monitored the person?s heart rate and oxygen uptake. In almost all cases, the results exactly matched the levels predicted on the six to 20 scale.

Professor Roger Eston, head of the University of Exeter?s School of Sport and Health Sciences said: ?We have worked with over 300 individuals in the last two years and now have a body of evidence to show that we each have a highly accurate built-in exercise monitor. We have found that people?s sense of how hard they are working matches what fitness testing equipment tells us, in some cases to the heartbeat.?

This doesn?t mean we should ditch the heart rate monitor or the power meter. Comparing how we feel with these tools can give a good indication of our condition. However, we should never ignore what our own bodies tell us.