Rockport Walking Test Calculator

Self-Administered Test to Measure Your Fitness Level

Woman Checking Fitness Watch
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The Rockport walking test is an evaluation you can self-administer to determine your cardiovascular fitness. The aim of the test is to measure your VO2 max, the maximum amount of oxygen you can utilize during intense exercise, measured in milliliters per kilograms per minute (ml/kg/min).

The Rockport walking test was developed in 1986 by physiologists and cardiologists at the Department of Exercise Science in the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Preparation

The Rockport walking test evaluates the capacity of your lungs in relation to the volume of exercise you can tolerate. It is designed for both women and men between the ages of 20 and 69. All you need to perform the test are:

  • A stopwatch
  • A level one-mile (1.6-kilometer) track (not a treadmill)
  • A good pair of walking shoes
  • Appropriate walking clothes
  • An accurate scale (in pounds)

You would also need something to measure your heart rate. You can either take your own pulse, purchase a heart rate monitor, or use a fitness tracker, like the Fitbit Charge, that has both a heart monitor and stopwatch function.

A 2011 study published in Military Medicine concluded that the Rockport walking test compared favorably to the Air Force 1.5-mile running test in assessing cardiovascular fitness.

Because it is less strenuous, the Rockport walking test may be more appropriate for adults who are older, overweight, or sedentary.

How the Test Is Performed

To take the Rockport walking test, you will need to find a level, one-mile course. High school tracks are usually ideal. For most of these tracks, four laps around the innermost lane equal one mile.

You can also use an online mapping app to measure out a one-mile course on an unobstructed path or walkway with no stop signs, ditches, barriers, or elevation. Even a rise of 3 percent can alter the outcome of the test.

To perform the Rockport walking test:

  1. Warm up for five to 10 minutes with light stretching.
  2. Start your stopwatch and immediately commence walking as fast as you can. Make every effort to push yourself, but avoid speed walking or power walking.
  3. At the end of the one mile, stop your stopwatch and record your time in decimals. For example, 11 minutes plus (30 seconds ÷ 60 seconds) = 11.5 minutes.
  4. Take your heart rate immediately. If taking your own pulse, count the heartbeats for 15 seconds and multiply by four. For example, if there are 40 heartbeats in 15 seconds, your heart rate would be 160 beats per minutes (bpm).

Calculating Your VO2 Max

Upon completion of the test, you will need to do some math to determine your VO2 max. In addition to your heart rate, you will also need to measure your weight in pounds. The formula is as follows:

VO2 max = 132.853 - (0.0769 x your weight in pounds) - (0.3877 x your age) + (6.315 if you are male or 0 if you are female) - (3.2649 x your walking time) - (0.1565 x your heart rate at the end of the test)

For example, if you are a 33-year-old man who weighs 160 pounds and completed the test in 11 minutes, 30 seconds with a post-exercise heart rate of 160 bpm, you would calculate your VO2 max as follows:

  • 132.853 - (0.0769 x 160 pounds) = 120.549
  • 120.549 - (0.3877 x 33 years of age) = 107.7549
  • 107.7549 + (6.315 because you are male) = 114.0699
  • 114.0699 - (3.2649 x 11.5 minutes) = 76.52355
  • 76.52355 - (0.1565 x 160 bpm) = 51.48355

Rounding off to the first three digits, your VO2 max would be 51.5 ml/kg/min.

If you are comfortable with long math, there are a number of online calculators you can use that allow you to plug in the individual values.

Grading Your Results

To determine your cardiovascular fitness, you would grade your VO2 max results based on your sex, as follows:

Women

  • Very poor: less than 23.6
  • Poor: 23.6 to 28.9
  • Fair: 29.0 to 32.9
  • Good: 33.0 to 36.9
  • Excellent: 37.0 to 41.0
  • Superior: greater than 41.0

Men

  • Very poor: less than 33.0
  • Poor: 33.0 to 36.4
  • Fair: 36.5 to 42.4
  • Good: 42.5 to 46.4
  • Excellent: 46.5 to 52.4
  • Superior: greater than 52.4

The results can help your doctor or personal trainer design the appropriate fitness plan based on your exercise tolerance. The Rockport walking test can also be used to track your progress every couple of months to see if you have improved.

A Word From Verywell

The Rockport walking test is a valuable tool for anyone wanting to approach exercise safely, especially those who are out of shape or have physical limitations.

It provides you a baseline from which improve and should not discourage you if the value is low. By steadily increasing the duration and intensity of your workouts, your fitness will improve and, with it, your VO2 max.

When first starting, don't go all out and exercise at 100 percent of your VO2 max. Instead, start with low-intensity exercise (20 to 39 percent) for the first few weeks and gradually intensify to a moderate intensity (40 to 59 percent).

It often helps to work with a personal trainer who can help you design a fitness strategy with specific goals and timetables.

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Article Sources

  1. Weiglein L, Herrick J, Kirk S, Kirk EP. The 1-mile walk test is a valid predictor of VO(2max) and is a reliable alternative fitness test to the 1.5-mile run in U.S. Air Force males. Mil Med. 2011;176(6):669-73. doi:10.7205/milmed-d-10-00444

  2. Kim K, Lee HY, Lee DY, Nam CW. Changes in cardiopulmonary function in normal adults after the Rockport 1 mile walking test: a preliminary study. J Phys Ther Sci. 2015;27(8):2559-61. doi:10.1589/jpts.27.2559

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