• A Simple DIY Fitness Test You Can Do At Home

    October 31, 2017 | By Tony Yong

    More often than not we struggle with the question of 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 bout of cardio exercise. In essence, 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 a number of 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. ensure that you are not on any medication before taking the test as this may affect your heart rate. Also, 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.

    Also, do not conduct the test if you have any knee or ankle injuries as this affects your pace while doing the exercise.

    Please avoid doing this test if you have any specific cardiac (or other known medical) condition until you have been cleared by a supervising medical professional.


    Performing the Test

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

    Here’s the full procedure:

    • Start by setting the metronome to 96 beats per minute. Ensure its audible so you can hear each beat.
    • Once set, start your timer and begin stepping 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 clocks 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 you can 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

    To be honest, most us find ourselves on the wrong end of the table. However, you can gradually improve your test score as you work your fitness levels.  The 3 minute step test is based on your endurance levels. This means you will need to invest time in doing cardio exercise.

    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 bettering your best each day with your workout plan.
    If you are diligent with your plan, you will notice a gradual improvement with your endurance levels. Get back to the test and 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 a great way for you to assess your cardiovascular health and understand if you need some improvement.

    Want to take a step in the right direction? Call one of our 5 clinics located throughout Edmonton & Sherwood Park including Riverbend, Meadowlark, Belvedere, Namao, or Sherwood Park.