Clinimetrics

# Harvard Step Test | Maximal aerobic capacity / VO2max calculation

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## Harvard Step Test | Maximal aerobic capacity / VO2max calculation

Maximal aerobic capacity, also called VO2 max, is the maximum rate of oxygen consumption during exercise and is expressed in liters per minute. Aerobic capacity is a good indicator of physical fitness and a reduction can be the first sign of disease. Ideally, it is measured in a lab with very expensive equipment, but this is rarely applied in practice as it is a very complicated process.

The Harvard Step Test correlates submaximal heart rate to Vo2 Max.
You might want to choose the Harvard step test over the Astrand bike test if you don’t have access to a stationary bike for example.

Execution

For this test you will need a body weight scale, a step of 30 and 40 centimeters of height, a metronome a stopwatch, and a heart rate monitor to record the patient’s weight and resting heart rate. Use the 30-centimeter high step for women and the 40-centimeter high step for men.

1. Record the patient’s body weight and resting heart rate
2. Start the metronome with a frequency of 45 beats per minute. The patient will have to step up on one count and step down on the second count
3. Start the stopwatch and have your patient step on a box of a height of 40cm for females and 30cm for females
4. Record your patient’s heart rate each minute for a total of 6 minutes
5. After the 6 minutes, a short cool down can be performed by the patient

Outcome calculation

1. Calculate the mean heart rate of the fifth and sixth minute2. Connect this HR average with the patient’s body weight by a straight line in the nomogram

3. The predicted VO2max is read from the middle scale by looking at the intersection with your drawn line

If the patient is younger than 17 or older than 35 years old, you have to apply a correction factor to the VO2max, so you’re going to multiply the VO2max by this factor:

5. Compare your results (corrected for age) with the following standard values:

Females

Males

## 21 OF THE MOST USEFUL ORTHOPAEDIC TESTS IN CLINICAL PRACTICE

Siconolfi et al. (1985) report that step tests have shown approximately 10% higher VO2max values than bike ergometer tests. In their study VO2max during the step tests was 12%higher than the directly measured VO2max.

Another way to calculate the VO2max using a submaximal test is the Astrand Bike Test.

### References

Burnstein, B. D., Steele, R. J., & Shrier, I. (2011). Reliability of fitness tests using methods and time periods common in sport and occupational management. Journal of athletic training, 46(5), 505-513.

Meyers, C. R. (1969). A study of the reliability of the Harvard step test. Research Quarterly. American Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation, 40(2), 423-423.

Siconolfi, S. F., Garber, C. E., Lasater, T. M., & Carleton, R. A. (1985). A simple, valid step test for estimating maximal oxygen uptake in epidemiologic studies. American journal of epidemiology, 121(3), 382-390.

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