Exercise is one of the most critical things we can do to have a healthy lifestyle. Luckily there are different kinds of activities that we can choose from—aerobic exercise, jogging, brisk walking, and so much more. But the most important thing to ensure fitness is regularity. Nowadays, many tests can help us calculate fitness and tell us what needs improvement. The Harvard step and Rockport tests are designed to calculate your fitness and help improve it. Let’s learn more about these tests and how you can perform them.
The Harvard step test
Measure resting heart rate
The Harvard step test calculates cardiovascular fitness or aerobic fitness. The test measures the resting heart rate through the radial, which is at the base of the thumb. If it is difficult to find the radial pulse in that spot, then it could be found at the carotid, which is on the neck. For the first part, the number of heartbeats in 30 seconds are counted. This figure is multiplied by 2. That will give the resting heart rate.
After measuring the resting heart rate, the athlete must stretch to loosen up muscles and joints in order to warm up and avoid injury to the muscles or joints or tissue damage.
Taking the Harvard step test
- For five minutes or until they are exhausted, the athlete takes 30 steps up and down on the platform every two seconds.
- Athletes are considered exhausted when they are unable to sustain a 15-second stepping pace.
- On completion of the test and during a period of one to two minutes, the total number of heartbeats are tallied.
- Only one measurement is needed if the test is taken in the abbreviated version.
- During the extended form of the test, an extra heart rate measurement is taken every two to 2.5 minutes and every three to five minutes.
The Fitness Index score is calculated by the following formulae, which are listed below.
The long-form Fitness Index score would be: (100 x 300) / (240 x 2) = 62.5 if the total test time was 300 seconds (if the entire 5 minutes was completed), and the number of heartbeats between 1-1.5 minutes was 90, between 2-2.5 minutes was 80, and between 3-3.5 minutes was 70, then the total test time was 300 seconds (if the entire 5 minutes was completed). Please keep in mind that the total number of heartbeats throughout the 30-second period is considered, not the rate (in beats per minute) during that time.
What does the Harvard step test result show?
What it shows us is a level or an indication of your cardiovascular fitness, and at the end of the test, the results can be used to calculate the fitness index. If the fitness index is above 90, it indicates a good fitness level. If the fitness index is below 55, it indicates poor fitness.
The Rockport test
The Rockport test is used to calculate VO2 max. VO2 max test calculates the maximum oxygen consumption rate while exercising. One crucial point about the Rockport walk is that it is not meant for people already in shape. This is because the test may put them at a superior VO2 classification on the VO2 max chart, which is meant for only elite runners and athletes.
This test was designed for relatively inactive people—people who do not walk more than 3 miles a day and have not done any aerobic exercise in the past three months.
The Rockport test takes into account five different variables, which are
- Heart rate
- The time it takes to walk one mile
This test must be performed on a flat course, such as a park or a track. For accurate results, hills or other such terrains should be avoided to avoid stressing the body excessively.
The Rockport walk test
Rockport walk test is a straightforward test that involves walking and is used to measure cardiorespiratory fitness. The individual walks one mile (1.6 km) as fast as possible for this test. To make sure that the individual is walking instead of running, they must have one foot in contact with the ground at all times. The individual needs to note the time taken to cover the one-mile distance and measure the heart rate when they finish.
They can check your pulse at the carotid or wrist for 15 seconds and multiply by four. An alternative is to use a heart rate monitor. The Rockport formula will show the predicted VO2 max result. This VO2 max score is used to evaluate cardiorespiratory fitness.
The Harvard Step and Rockport tests are straightforward to perform. These tests are used to measure health and fitness. Because they are so easy to perform and provide somewhat accurate results, they are widely popular. The Rockport walk test has been validated extensively as a measure of cardiorespiratory fitness. However, people suffering from health problems should first consult with the doctor before performing the test.