The Harvard step test is a simple way to measure cardiovascular fitness. The test is not the equivalent of VO2 max but is correlated with it.

Please enter the employee's gender, pulse rates (Pulse 1, Pulse 2, and Pulse 3) and then click on the 'Submit' button.

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How to conduct the test

This test requires the employee to step up and down off a 45cm step for 5 minutes at a rate 30 steps/minute

  • The employee warms up for 10 minutes
  • The assistant gives the command "GO" and starts the stopwatch
  • The employee steps up and down onto a standard gym bench once every two seconds for five minutes (150 steps)
  • The assistant stops the test after 5 minutes
  • The assistant measures the employee's heart rate (bpm) one minute after finishing the test - Pulse1
  • The assistant measures the employee's heart rate (bpm) two minutes after finishing the test - Pulse2
  • The assistant measures the employee's heart rate (bpm) three minutes after finishing the test - Pulse3


The Harvard Step Test is used to measure a clients aerobic fitness, being a predictive test of their VO2max. It tests the cardiovascular system and reflects the general capacity of body to cope with increased physical work load and ability to recover from it.


The fitness index score is determined by the following equations.

Fitness Index = (100 x test duration in seconds) divided by (2 x sum of heart beats in the recovery periods).

eg if the total test time was 300 seconds (if the client completed the whole 5 minutes), and their number of heart beats between 1-1½ minutes was 90, between 2-2½ it was 80 and between 3-3½ it was 70, then the fitness index score would be: (100 x 300) / (240 x 2) = 62.5. 



Lucien Brouha

Lucien Antoine Maurice Brouha (26 October 1899 – 6 October 1968) was a Belgian rower who later became a notable exercise physiologist in the United States. Between 1934 and the outbreak of World War II, Brouha travelled on scholarships on several occasions to conduct research at universities in the United States. Later in 1940, Brouha relocated to Harvard University, Massachusetts. At Harvard, he focused on military research for the United States Army. He is best known for developing the Harvard step test, a simple fitness test first used by the army but later also used for civilian purposes.