Cardiorespiratory Assessment: The Heart and Lungs

Here are some common cardiorespiratory assessments Fitness Professionals use to test the heart and lungs. This is by no means an all inclusive list!

YMCA 3-minute Step Test

The YMCA 3-minute step test is a cardiorespiratory assessment that establishes a baseline so the fitness professional can provide an appropriate workout. This test assesses how quickly your heart recovers after 3 minutes of stepping on a 12 inch step, to a set cadence using a metronome (96 beats per minute). Immediately after the 3 minutes, you’ll be asked to sit down and your heart rate measured for 1 full minute. The more conditioned you are, the faster your heart rate recovers. Below are results tables.

Ratings for Men, Based on Age
Above Average88-9388-9492-8895-10197-10094-102
Below Average102-107104-110108-113113-119111-117114-118
Very Poor124-157126-161130-163131-159131-154130-151
Ratings for Women, Based on Age
Above Average96-10295-101100-104104-110106-111104-111
Below Average113-120113-119115-120120-124119-127123-126
Very Poor135-169134-171137-169137-171141-174135-155


Balke 15 Minute Run

The Balke 15 minute run is used to predict VO2max. This is a measure of how well your body can take in and utilize oxygen. After a dynamic warmup, you will be asked to run for 15 continuous minutes, usually around a 400 meter track. The distance covered in the run is plugged into the equation that follows, and then compared to a table of normative data.

VO2 = 6.5 + 12.5 x km covered

Bruce Treadmill Test

The Bruce Treadmill Test is used widely in the clinical setting. If you’ve ever had a stress test ordered by a cardiologist, chances are, you’ve performed a Bruce Treadmill Test. The procedure for this test involves walking on a treadmill that increases its speed and incline every 3 minutes. Since this test is a maximal test, you will be required to continue until completely fatigued. In a clinical setting, the clinician will use other vitals such as blood pressure and EKG readings to determine fatigue, and whether progression is appropriate.

Cooper 12 Minute Run Test

The Cooper 12 Minute Run assesses VO2max. For this test, you’ll be asked to run around a 400 meter track, as fast as you can, for 12 minutes. The total distance covered is plugged into a formula, and a VO2max prediction is the result. The equation follows:

0.0225 x meters covered minus 11.3

For instance, if you ran 2500 meters in 12 minutes: .0225×2500-11.3 = 52.45 ml/kg/min

* A lap around the track is 400 meters.

Rockport Walk Test

The Rockport Walk Test is just that – a cardiorespiratory assessment that tests how fast you can walk — a mile. After completing the mile, your pulse is measured, and then added to the equation below. This test is great for people that are interested in walking for cardiovascular fitness, because it can serve as a time to improve upon with subsequent re-testing!

Females: VO2 = 139.168 – (0.388 x age) – (0.077 x weight in lb.) – (3.265 x walking time in minutes) – (0.156 x heart rate)

Males: add 6.318, So: VO2 = 139.168 + 6.318 – (0.388 x age) – (0.077 x weight in lb.) – (3.265 x walking time in minutes) – (0.156 x heart rate)