Protocol - Cardiorespiratory Fitness - Exercise Test Estimate - Treadmill Test

Add to My Toolkit

The participant is asked to walk on a treadmill at a 5% grade for 4 minutes. A technician utilizes a stopwatch to time the walk. Although the test was validated on participants with a range of fitness, it may tend to underestimate fitness in highly trained individuals. The participant wears a heart-rate (HR) monitor that records HR continuously through the test. After the test is completed, the technician records the HR from the last 15 seconds of the test. In addition, the participant’s age and gender are needed to complete an equation to determine maximal oxygen consumption (VO2 max).

Specific Instructions

A heart-rate (HR) monitor (e.g. Polar® HR monitor) should be used because the HR that is used in the equation is taken during the last 15 seconds of the test and not after the test is completed (HR will decline rapidly after test is completed). If HR is taken after the test is completed, this will introduce error to the prediction of VO2 max.

Ideally, the HR monitor should store HR so the technician can easily access the results after the test is completed. If not, the technician can read and record the HR value directly from the receiver in the last 15 seconds of the test. The manufacturer’s user manual should be followed for proper calibration and usage.

The participant should complete a screening instrument such as the PAR-Q+ (Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire for Everyone, Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology) prior to the treadmill test to make certain he or she is physically capable of performing the test. If the person is elderly or in poor health, a physician’s examination and approval is preferable prior to the test.

Polar® is a trademark of Polar Electro Oy.





Secure the heart-rate monitor chest strap and wrist receiver. Ask the study participant to warm up by walking on a treadmill at 0% grade at a brisk, but comfortable pace of 2 to 4.5 mph for 4 minutes. The warm up pace should produce a heart rate that is 50-70% of the age-predicted maximum HR (220 - age in years). After 4 minutes at 0% grade, begin the test by increasing the grade of the treadmill to 5%, start the stopwatch. The speed should remain the same for 4 minutes at the 5% grade. Heart rate from a HR monitor should be obtained for the last 15 sec of the test. Record the speed, HR, age, and gender into the following scoring equation to determine predicted relative VO2max (maximal oxygen consumption).


VO2max = 15.1 + 21.8*SPEED (mph) - 0.327* HEART RATE (bpm) - 0.263*SPEED*AGE (yrs) + 0.00504*HEART RATE*AGE + 5.98*GENDER

(0 = female, 1 = male)

Units are milliliters of oxygen per kilogram body weight per minute expressed as mil/kg/min.

Personnel and Training Required

A technician who has been trained in monitoring a treadmill test and in properly recording the data.

Equipment Needs


A heart-rate (HR) monitor with chest strap and wrist receiver that stores HR data is recommended.

Requirement CategoryRequired
Major equipment No
Specialized training No
Specialized requirements for biospecimen collection No
Average time of greater than 15 minutes in an unaffected individual No
Mode of Administration

Physical Measurement


Adult, Senior


Ages 20-59

Selection Rationale

This is a standard assessment of aerobic capacity that has been widely utilized for the past two decades. It is low burden for healthy participants and relatively easy for a technician to administer.


Chinese, English

Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes (LOINC) Cardioresp fitness treadmill proto 62815-6 LOINC
Human Phenotype Ontology Cardiorespiratory arrest HP:0006543 HPO
Human Phenotype Ontology Abnormal cardiac exercise stress test HP:0500018 HPO
caDSR Form PhenX PX150102 - Cardiorespiratory Fitnessexercise Test Estimate Treadm 6170694 caDSR Form
Derived Variables


Process and Review

The Expert Review Panel #1 reviewed the measures in the Anthropometrics, Diabetes, Physical Activity and Physical Fitness, and Nutrition and Dietary Supplements domains.

Guidance from the ERP includes:

• Revised descriptions of measure

Back-compatible: no changes to Data Dictionary

Previous version in Toolkit archive (link)

Protocol Name from Source

Ebbeling, E.B., et al. Development of a single-stage submaximal treadmill walking test. MED SCI SPORT EXER, 1991


Ebbeling, E. B., Ward, A. Puleo, E. M., Widrick, J., & Rippe, J. M. (1991). Development of a single-stage submaximal treadmill walking test. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 23(8), 966-973.

General References

Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire for Everyone (PAR-Q+) © 2011. Used with permission from the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology.

Protocol ID


Export Variables
Variable Name Variable IDVariable DescriptiondbGaP Mapping
PX150102020000 Participant's age Variable Mapping
PX150102050000 Participant's heart rate during the last 10 more
minutes of the walk as shown on heart rate monitor show less
Variable Mapping
PX150102040000 Participant's heart rate during the last 10 more
minutes of the walk as shown on heart rate monitor show less
Variable Mapping
PX150102010000 Participant's sex Variable Mapping
PX150102060100 Time to complete entire 1 mile walk N/A
PX150102060200 Time to complete entire 1 mile walk N/A
PX150102030000 Treadmill speed during warm up N/A
Physical Activity and Physical Fitness
Measure Name

Cardiorespiratory Fitness - Exercise Test Estimate

Release Date

May 10, 2010


A measure to estimate maximal oxygen consumption (VO2 max).


Aerobic capacity (VO2 max) is the best indicator of a person’s cardiovascular fitness and aerobic endurance. Low VO2 max has been associated with cardiovascular disease.


Physical Activity and Physical Fitness, V02 max, aerobic capacity, walk

Measure Protocols
Protocol ID Protocol Name
150101 Cardiorespiratory Fitness - Exercise Test Estimate - One Mile Walk
150102 Cardiorespiratory Fitness - Exercise Test Estimate - Treadmill Test

There are no publications listed for this protocol.