The use of fitness tests promotes healthy exercise habits among individuals and populations because test motivates people to monitor their own exercise responses. The use and availability of fitness tests can be increased by fitness and health professionals.
The purpose of this study was to develop a valid, safe, easy and practicable cardiorespiratory fitness test for adults.
The walking test was developed during four phases:
- Walking was evaluated as a mode of exercise; the feasibility of three walking distances – 1, 1.5 and 2 km – was studied, and equations for predicting maximal aerobic power (VO2max) were developed based on the 2 km walking times.
- Walking was studied as an exercise mode for overweight adults, and the criterion validity of the derived equations was determined.
- The criterion validity of the 2-km walking test in moderately and highly active middle-aged adults was studied, and the effects of walking speed on VO2max prediction were evaluated.
- The feasibility and practicability of the 2-km walking test in field conditions were studied as a part of a wider population health survey.
The subjects for the development of validity studies were selected from representative samples of the general population prior to health screening. The laboratory measurements of those screened included standard anthropometry and direct measurement of VO2max using uphill treadmill walk-run procedure. The field walking tests were conducted outdoor courses with starts at intervals, and heart rate was recorded continuously. The instructions were, “walk as fast as possible without risking your health”.
The results showed walking to be a suitable mode of exercise for a fitness test. The majority preference for distance was 2 km, which also yielded walking times that predicted VO2max more accurately compared with shorter distances.
The prediction equations for VO2max were developed using a multivariate regression analysis. The predictive variables in the sex-specific equations were:
- body mass index (BMI)
- elapsed time for walk
- heart rate at the end of the walk.
The predictive equations explained 73 to 75% of the variance in VO2max (ml/min/kg) in healthy adults. Prediction equations for VO2max developed for healthy physically non-selected adults were valid also for overweight and moderately fit men and women, but underpredicted VO2max in very fit individuals because the level of exertion for them was too low.
A speed maximal or corresponding to at least 80% of maximum heart rate resulted in the most accurate VO2max prediction.
Two thirds of the rural population was willing to participate in the walking test. Illness, health limitations and medications decreased the number of physiologically acceptable results, especially in the over-50 test groups.
The organization and administration of the test were cost-effective and easy to arrange. The study showed that the 2 km walking test is a valid and feasible fitness test for the healthy adult population, and suitable in field conditions.
Jaana Suni, Research and Development Manager
Laukkanen Raija. Development and evaluation of a 2-km Walking Test for assessing maximal aerobic power of adults in field conditions. Kuopio University Publications D. Medical Sciences 23. 1993. 85 p. ISBN 951-780-403-2
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Last updated: 2.11.2020