The Rockport Walk Test

Last Updated: November 1, 2015


Rockport Walking Test, Peak Aerobic Capacity, VO2max

Peak aerobic capacity is a measure of cardiovascular fitness and health. It is considered one of the best measures of health and longevity. This page provides you with instructions and an interactive tool that will enable you to easily estimate your peak aerobic capacity (or fitness level).

Remember to rest

Being fit is the clossest thing being young forever.

Aerobic Capacity and Health/Longevity

Over the last several years, an impressive body of scientific literature highlighting the positive effects of physical activity on health and longevity has accumulated. In one of these studies, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1999, 72,000 women were divided into several groups, based on the number of hours they were walking per week. Women walking 3 or more hours a week were found to have a relative risk of heart attack of about 50% compared to women who were not exercising at all.

In 2002, a somewhat similar study was published in the same journal, investigating over 6,000 men tested on the treadmill to determine their aerobic capacity. Men with the highest level of fitness were over 4 times less likely to die then the least fit men. In this study, the participants' fitness level was measured in METs (see below). Men with a MET level less than 6 were found to have the highest mortality risk. MET levels of 10 or more were found to have the lowest mortality risk. In addition, for every 1 MET increase in aerobic capacity, mortality dropped by 12%.

What is a MET?

MET stands for "metabolic equivalent tasks". Also called a "metabolic equivalent", MET is the amount of energy used by an average adult at rest. If you are interested in precise numbers, an average adult needs 1 calorie for every 2.2 pounds of body weight per hour. This means that a person weighing 160 pounds burns approximately 70 calories an hour while sitting or sleeping.

As you will see with the test below, moderate or intense physical activity can increase your body's MET level by many units.

Estimating Your Peak Aerobic Capacity - The Rockport Walking Test

Calculating your peak aerobic performance is easier than you may think. Here are the steps you need to take:
  1. Take the Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire to determine whether your exercise ability is not limited by any serious health problems.
  2. Find a one-mile walking track or measure one yourself as accurately as possible.
  3. Make sure you know how to measure your pulse. Practice taking your pulse for 10 seconds and then multiply the result by 6 to get your heart rate per minute.
  4. Wear a watch with a stopwatch feature during the test.
  5. Wear appropriate walking shoes and clothes.
  6. Walk as briskly as you can for one full mile. Remember, this is a walking test, not a running test:-)
  7. Press the stop button of your stopwatch as soon as you finish and record the time to the nearest second. This is important, as time is one of the big contributors in the formula for estimating peak aerobic performance.
  8. Take your pulse immediately after finishing walking. Remember to take your pulse for 10 seconds and multiply the result by 6 to obtain your minute heart rate.
  9. Use the calculator below to enter your results and compute your peak aerobic capacity.

Rockport Walking Test - VO2max

Male Female
beats per minute.
min. sec.

Aerobic Capactity:


Your Fitness Rating:

(see table below).

Rating above based on norms from the by National Institute of Health and the American College of Sports Medicine.

For a better idea of what your results mean, please see the table below with the different aerobic capacity norms based on gender and age group:

Aerobic Capacity Norms Males Females
Ages 20-29 Low fit <37.1 <30.6
Moderate fit 37.1 - 44.2 30.6 - 36.6
High fit 44.3+ 36.7+
Ages 30-39 Low fit <35.3 <28.7
Moderate fit 35.3 - 42.4 28.7 - 34.6
High fit 42.5+ 34.7+
Ages 40-49 Low fit <33.0 <26.5
Moderate fit 33.0 - 39.9 26.5 - 32.3
High fit 40.0+ 32.4+
Ages 50-59 Low fit <31.4 <25.1
Moderate fit 31.4 - 39.3 25.1 - 31.3
High fit 39.4+ 31.4+
Ages 60+ Low fit <28.3 <21.9
Moderate fit 28.3 - 36.1 21.9 - 28.2
High fit 36.2+ 28.3+

Formula For Peak Aerobic Capacity

For those of you who are into technical stuff, here is the formula used for calculating VO2max:

Estimated VO2max (ml/kg/min) = 132.853 - (0.0769 x body weight in [pounds]) - (0.3877 x age [years]) + (6.3150 x gender [female = 0; male = 1]) - (3.2649 x 1-mile walk time [in minutes and hundredths]) - (0.1565 x 1-minute heart rate at end of mile [beats per minute]).

How Accurate is This Measurement of Fitness?

On the basis of the validity (R=.88) and standard error of estimate (5.0 ml/kg/min), you can be about 68% sure that your true VO2 max is ± 5.0 ml/kg/min of your calculated value. For example, if your predicted VO2 max is 40 ml/kg/min, there is a 68% likelihood that your actual value is between 35 and 45.

Dr. Gily Ionescu MD, MS.

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