Rockport Fitness Walking Test History

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The Rockport Fitness Walking Test, or RFWT, is a cardiorespiratory fitness test used to estimate VO2 max. VO2 max, also called aerobic capacity, is the maximum capacity of a person's body to move and use oxygen during exercise. The higher the number, the more aerobically fit a person is considered.


The Rockport Fitness Walking Test was developed by exercise physiologists and cardiologists at the Department of Exercise Science in the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Researchers sought a low-impact, safe test that involves a well-liked exercise and appealed to the broadest spectrum of users. The Rockport Institute has been studying walking and fitness since 1971 and has found this test to be the best in judging VO2 max and fitness level. The actual date of the creation of the Rockport Fitness Walking Test is unknown.


To perform this test, you will need accurate weighing scales, a 400m track -- or a quarter-mile track -- a stopwatch, and pen and paper. Weigh yourself and take ten minutes to warm up and stretch. Start the stopwatch and walk one mile as fast as you can. Stop the stopwatch as soon as you have completed the mile and take your pulse while continuing to walk, but at a slower pace. Count your heartbeats for ten seconds and multiply by six, or count for fifteen and multiply by four. Record the time and heart rate. Cool down for ten minutes. When cool-down is complete, plug your results into the VO2 max formula. The resulting number once the formula is completed will tell you what your VO2 max is.


The VO2 formula is 132.853 - (0.0769 × Weight in pounds) - (0.3877 × Age in years) + (6.315 × Gender) - (3.2649 × Time in minutes and 100ths of minutes) - (0.1565 × Heart rate in beats per minute). Males should input “1” into the gender portion and females should input “0” into the gender portion. The test may also be completed on a calibrated treadmill.


The Rockport Fitness Walking Test allows adults who may be unused to physical activity to judge their VO2 max. The test is also appropriate for people who are unable to run due to medical limitations or injury. The test is lower-impact than running and does not use maximal testing; therefore, no specific medical equipment is needed and it is lower-risk than some other cardiorespiratory endurance tests.


This test should not be undertaken by users with health problems without first consulting a doctor. This test is not accurate for participants under the age of 30, or over the age of 79. Complete a Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire -- PAR-Q test, or Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire, first to determine if you need to consult your physician before participating. If you feel dizzy, nauseous, or light-headed then stop the walking test.