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My aerobic capacity – RPC

anita wisén portrait. photo.
Anita Wisén. Photo: Åsa Hansdotter.

In order to be able to prescribe the appropriate dose of physical activity to patients, healthcare professionals need to consider a range of individual factors. There is a need to facilitate the assessment of aerobic capacity i. e. maximal oxygen uptake capacity (VO2max), as well as to calculate the intensity of training according to the WHO recommendations for physical activity. Now, researchers at Lund University have developed an app that quickly does the job.

Decreased fitness is seen both in healthy people and in people with various pathological conditions or health issues. Licensed health professionals are mandated by the National Board of Health and Welfare to support people to increase their activity levels through physical activity on prescription (FaR®). Both for health promotion,and in order to prevent and improve diseases such as high blood pressure, stroke, angina, myocardial infarction, diabetes, osteoporosis and depression.  

“Of course, the initial fitness level and starting point for exercise varies from person to person and the type of activity corresponding to the intensity recommendations needs to be adapted accordingly. Therefore, as part of the exercise prescription, it is very important to know the patient’s aerobic capacity,” explains Anita Wisén, licenced physiotherapist, associate professor and researcher at Lund University.

The patient’s aerobic capacity

To assess a person’s current aerobic capacity, the most accurate measure is to measure the oxygen uptake using a maximal, or alternatively, a submaximal aerobic test. However, these tests are sophisticated and time-consuming, requiring both expensive equipment and specially trained professionals. A simpler approach is for the person to self-assess their fitness using the Rating of Perceived Capacity (RPC) scale – an internationally accepted, clinically useful method developed by Anita Wisén:

“The RPC scale is described in the FYSS, which is an evidence-based support for physical activity prescription and an equivalent to the FASS. The scale is also included as a relevant assessment and evaluation tool for prevention and for different pathological conditions. By estimating perceived exertion on a metabolic equivalents scale, a person’s maximal oxygen uptake can be calculated.   The dosage of exercise is central, but it can be tricky to calculate. There is a need to automate the calculations, as well as to clarify the advice on the intensity of exercise for different individuals.”

app rpc

Facts app “My fitness - RPC”

  • The app is aimed at health professionals and anyone who wants to obtain an idea of their fitness level, get exercise recommendations, and maintain an exercise diary. It is free and available in both English and Swedish: “My aerobic capacity – RPC”. The app can be downloaded to your mobile phone from the App Store or as an Android version, link:
  • The app has been developed by researchers at Lund University in collaboration with LU Innovation and Lunicore.
  • No data entered into the app is passed on outside your own mobile (but is saved in your own app on your own mobile)

“It is important that health professionals can individualise their advice and not just give generalised advice when prescribing type and intensity when prescribing aerobic exercise,” remarks Anita Wisén.  

Therefore, Anita Wisén decided to develop an app “My aerobic capacity – RPC,” which makes the individual-based calculations of fitness level and recommended intensity automatically, after entering basic facts such as gender, age, weight and height as well as estimated fitness level on the RPC scale. This allows health professionals to give individual advice more quickly and easily on the appropriate type, intensity and heart rate interval of fitness training.

In addition to the fitness level estimation and exercise intensity calculation, the app also has an exercise diary that allows the person to document their physical exercise and see what percentage of the recommended goals they are achieving.

“This is not only a tool for healthcare professionals to use when prescribing physical activity, but the app is for anyone who wants to know their aerobic capacity and wants to get started with their aerobic training and follow their fitness progress,” concludes Anita Wisén.

Scientific publications

Wisén AGM, Farazdaghi RG, Wohlfart B. A novel rating scale to predict maximal exercise capacity. Eur. J. Appl. Physiol. 87: 350-57 (2002)

Wisén AGM,  Wohlfart B. Aerobic and functional capacity in a group of healthy women – reference values and repetability.  Clin. Physiol. Funct. Imaging. 24 341-351 (2004)

Länkar till FYSS 2017 (version kap 2021 finns ännu inte i nätversion) Hagströmer M. Wisén A. Hassmén P. Kap 1.19 “Bedöma och utvärdera fysisk aktivitet.” Yrkesföreningar för Fysisk Aktivitet (YFA), Fysisk aktivitet I sjukdomsprevention och sjukdomsbehandling FYSS 2017. Läkartidningen Förlag AB. 250-266 (2017)

Hassmén P. Wisén A. Hagströmer M Kap 1.20 “Metoder för att individanpassa fysisk aktivitet.”  Yrkesföreningar för Fysisk Aktivitet (YFA), Fysisk aktivitet I sjukdomsprevention och sjukdomsbehandling FYSS 2017. Läkartidningen Förlag AB. 267-280 (2017)