A Simple Exercise Test For Determining Cardiovascular Fitness

Exercise is a critical component of dieting and weight loss. This post has a simple test to estimate cardiovascular fitness.

In addition, please see my post, Reference Standards For The 6 Minute Walk Test And Other Resources On Exercise Assessment Posted on July 19, 2018 by Tom Wade MD [Resource (5) below.

The authors of Resource (1) used the Ebberling single-stage submaximal treadmill walking test to predict their subjects maximal volume of oxygen consumption [See References (2) and (3) below

The following is from Resource (1) below:

Predicted maximal volume of oxygen consumption

Previously validated Ebbeling single-stage submaximal treadmill walking test was used to predict maximal volume of oxygen consumption. This protocol is a low-risk test for non-athletic adults. Treadmill walking speed is determined for each participant based on their age and fitness level. Following a 4 min warm-up on a flat gradient at a speed that induced 50–70% of age-predicted maximal HR, participants continued to walk at the same speed but at 5% gradient. Steady-state HR was then determined in the final 30 s of this segment, provided HR did not fluctuate more than 5 b.p.m. in the final 2 min and maximal volume of oxygen consumption was then determined using the Ebbeling equation(38). If HR fluctuations exceeded 5 b.p.m. the participant continued on this segment for a further minute until a steady state was achieved.

The following is an excerpt from exercise protocols for The Single Stage Treadmill Walking Test (Ebbeling et al.1991).  This document is from The Ontario Society ForHealth and Fitness. This document, accessed 9-19-2016, also contains the protocol for the The YMCA Cycle Ergometer Submaximal Test (Golding et al.1989):

The Single Stage Treadmill Walking Test (Ebbeling et al.1991).

The single stage treadmill walking test is a submaximal aerobic fitness test that estimates VO2 max. It is suitable for low risk, apparently healthy, non-athletic adults 20-59 years of age. The walking pace required throughout the test also makes it appropriate for participants who experience problems such as
knee pain when exercising at a jogging pace. The test can be administered to moderate sized groups of participants with low to moderate fitness levels and requires only a treadmill and a HR monitor.


The walking speed for the test is individually determined based on the participant’s gender, age, and fitness level

1. Estimate the participant’s age-predicted HRmax (220-age) bpm then calculate; 50% bpm and 70% bpm of his/her HRmax.

2. Have the participant warm-up for 4 minutes at a 0% grade and a walking speed that brings the HR to between 50% and 70% of his/her HRmax. (The recommended walking speed isfrom 3.4 to 4 mph). If the HR is not in this range after the first minute, adjust the speed accordingly. 3. Following the warm-up, keep the participant at the same speed for an additional 4 minutes at a grade of 5%, then record the steady-state HR (SS HR) from the average of the final 30 sec of the last two minutes at the 5% grade. (Note; to achieve steady-state, the HR from the last two minutes must not differ by more than 5 bpm. If the HR differs by more than 5 bpm, extend the test by an additional
minute and record the SS HR from the new final two minutes.) SS HR = bpm.

4. Enter this SS HR into the equation below to estimate VO2 max (ml⋅kg-1⋅min-1).

5. Allow the participant to cool down at a slow walk and 0% grade for 2-5 min.

Estimated VO2 max (ml⋅kg-1⋅min-1) = 15.1 +21.8 (speed in mph) – 0.327 (SS HR in bpm) – 0.263 (speed x age in years) + 0.00504 (SS HR in bpm x age in years) + 5.98 (gender; female = 0, male = 1)

Estimated VO2 max (ml⋅kg-1⋅min-1) = 15.1 +21.8 ( ) – 0.327 ( ) – 0.263 ( X ) + 0.00504 ( X ) + 5.98 ( ) = ______________(ml⋅kg-1 min-1)

Example: A 30 year old male walked at 3.6 mph at a grade of 5 % with a SS HR of 159 bpm.

(HRmax = 190 bpm; 50% HRmax = 95 bpm; 70 % HRmax = 133 bpm):

15.1 +21.8 (3.6) – 0.327 (159) – 0.263 (3.6 x 30) + 0.00504 (159 x 30) + 5.98 (1) = 43.2 (ml⋅kg-1 min-1)


(1) Enhanced insulin sensitivity in successful, long-term weight loss maintainers compared with matched controls with no weight loss history [PubMed Abstract] [Full Text HTML] [Full Text PDF]. Nutr Diabetes. 2017 Jun 19;7(6):e282. doi: 10.1038/nutd.2017.31

(2) Development of a single-stage submaximal treadmill walking test [PubMed Abstract]. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1991 Aug;23(8):966-73.

(3) Comprehensive evaluation of a single-stage submaximal treadmill walking protocol in healthy, middle-aged women[PubMed Abstract]. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2011 Jan;111(1):47-56. doi: 10.1007/s00421-010-1615-3. Epub 2010 Sep 1.

(5) Reference Standards For The 6 Minute Walk Test And Other Resources On Exercise Assessment Posted on July 19, 2018 by Tom Wade MD

(6) Exercise Oximetry And Walking Tests in Chronic Respiratory Diseases
Posted on July 27, 2017 by Tom Wade MD

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