A Simple DIY Fitness Test You Can Do At Home

Are you tired of sitting around the house and looking to get back into a good fitness routine?  Well, you’re not alone!  Many people are looking for ways to take advantage of this time and get healthier.  Starting can always be a challenge, and many people don’t want to do too much and injure themselves.  More often than not, we struggle with our cardiovascular fitness level.  In most instances, conducting a comprehensive cardiovascular test requires elaborate equipment and a trained instructor.  However, the good news is that with the YMCA 3 Minutes Step Test, you can evaluate your fitness and plan for a healthier lifestyle.

The test measures your cardiovascular fitness by evaluating your heart rate recovery after a short cardio exercise.  The lower your heart rate, the better your cardiovascular fitness.

Test Equipment

To conduct an accurate test, you need the following;

  • A 12-inch tall step (you can use a box too, but it should be close to 12 inches)
  • A stopwatch or timer
  • Metronome (there are several free metronome apps available)
  • A partner to help with counting.

Pre-Test Considerations

Test accuracy affords a more candid interpretation of the test results.  For maximum accuracy, consider the following:

  • Ensure that you are not on any medication before taking the test, as this may affect your heart rate.
  • Avoid caffeine drinks such as coffee and energy drinks at least 3 hours before conducting the test. Caffeine beverages can increase your heart rate leading to an inaccurate result interpretation.
  • Do not conduct the test if you have any knee or ankle injuries, as this affects your exercise pace.
  • Avoid doing this test if you have any specific cardiac (or other known medical) condition until a supervising medical professional has cleared you.
graph showing runner

Performing the Test

The goal is to continuously step on and off the 12-inch box or bench for 3 minutes while maintaining a consistent pace and then evaluating how fast your heart rate will recover.

Here is the complete procedure:

  • Start by setting the metronome to 96 beats per minute. Ensure it is audible so you can hear each beat.
  • Once set, start your timer and step on and off the step to the metronome beat for 3 minutes. Ensure you maintain a consistent pace and do not stop to catch your breath during the test.
  • When the timer hits 3 minutes, stop the routine and sit while maintaining an upright posture. Record your heart rate for 60 seconds, counting each beat.  For more accuracy, begin recording as soon as possible after stopping the exercise.
  • Evaluate your result with the age-adjusted evaluation table.  The ratings on the table are broken down by excellent, good, above average, average, below average, poor and very poor.

How to Improve Your Results

Most of us find ourselves on the wrong end of the table.  However, you can gradually improve your test score as you work on your fitness levels.  The 3-minute step test measures your endurance levels, which means you will need to invest time in doing cardio exercises.

For starters, come up with a daily cardio workout.  For example, you can choose a morning run on the treadmill or cycling.  Start small on your workout plan; you don’t have to run a mile on your first day.  The goal is to keep improving your best daily results with your workout plan.
If you are diligent with your plan, you will notice a gradual improvement in your endurance levels.  Get back to the test, evaluate your progress, and keep at it until your numbers score in the excellent zone on the table.

The YMCA 3 Minute Step Test is a simple and cost-effective test to do at home and doesn’t require sophisticated equipment.  It’s an excellent way to assess your cardiovascular health and understand if you need improvement.

Want to take a step in the right direction?  Call one of our five clinics throughout Edmonton, including RiverbendBelvedereNamao, or Southgate Centre.

 If you have any further questions, contact Innovation Physical Therapy today.  We’re here to help you, “Love Getting Better!”

woman doing jump rope exercises