The Rockport Walk Test: Calculate Your V02 Max!

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The Rockport WalkTest, also called the Rockport 1 mile walk test or the Rockport fitness walking test, is a self-administered, submaximal VO2 max test that can help you estimate your V02 max simply by walking 1 mile as fast as possible.

In this Rockport Walk Test guide, we will discuss what the Rockport Walking Test is, how to perform the Rockport 1 mile walk test for VO2 max, the benefits, and how to calculate VO2 max from the Rockport 1 Mile Walking test.

We will look at: 

  • What Is the Rockport Walk Test?
  • What Are the Benefits of the Rockport Walk Test for VO2 Max?
  • How Do You Perform the Rockport Walk Test for VO2 Max?
  • How Do You Calculate VO2 Max From the Rockport 1 Mile Walk Test?

Let’s get started!

A person performing the Rockport walk test on a track.

What Is the Rockport Walk Test?

Your aerobic capacity. is measured by VO2 max, which refers to maximum oxygen uptake.

Your VO2 max is considered to be the gold standard measurement of cardiorespiratory fitness or aerobic fitness

This metric denotes the maximum amount of oxygen (in milliliters of volume) that your body is able to use per minute per kilogram of body weight while running or performing some other form of vigorous cardio exercise. 

The Rockport Walk Test for VO2 max, also called the Rockport 1 mile walking test, was developed by exercise physiologists and cardiologists at the Department of Exercise Science at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1986 and has since become one of the most popular submaximal VO2 max tests.

A submaximal VO2 max test like the Rockport WalkTest predicts your maximum aerobic capacity based on heart rate and the time it takes you to walk 1 mile at an even pace; jogging is not allowed. 

The test has been validated on subjects between the ages of 30 and 69.

A person walking fast on treadmill.

What Are the Benefits of the Rockport Walk Test for VO2 Max?

There are several Rockport Walking Test benefits as a VO2 max test protocol.

Here are some of the top benefits of the Rockport Walking Test for VO2 measurements:

  • This self-administered VO2 max test is great for those who do not have access to an exercise physiology lab for VO2 max testing because you can perform the test on a track or a treadmill for virtually no money.
  • Most people are comfortable walking, so the Rockport Walking Test for VO2 max test can feel more doable than a VO2 bike test protocol or step test for VO2 max.
  • The Rockport walk VO2 test has been validated by numerous research studies and adjusted for different population groups over time, so the ability to predict VO2 max from the Rockport Walk Test is relatively high compared to some other submaximal VO2 max estimation tests.
  • Very little equipment is needed.
  • The Rockport Walk VO2 max protocol is very straightforward and doesn’t take very long to perform.
A person speedwalking on a track.
  • Knowing your VO2 max from the Rockport Walk Test can help you understand your current cardiovascular fitness level and health risk.
  • Because the Rockport Walk Test is a submaximal VO2 max calculation protocol, it is safer for those with contraindications to maximal exercise or high-impact VO2 max running tests like the 1.5-mile run.
  • That said, research has found that the Rockport Walk Test accuracy is on par with the Air Force 1.5-mile running test for assessing cardiovascular fitness while being less strenuous on the cardiovascular system and musculoskeletal system, making it a safer alternative for those who are elderly, overweight, dealing with arthritis or a contraindication to high impact running, or who may have poor fitness or heart conditions that make running unsafe or unappealing.
A stopwatch.

How Do You Perform the Rockport Walk Test for VO2 Max?

Performing the Rockport Walk Test to calculate your VO2 max is quite straightforward and requires basic equipment.

First, what equipment do you need to perform the Rockport Walking Test for VO2 max?

Here is the equipment necessary for the Rockport WalkTest:

  • A good pair of walking shoes and comfortable clothing
  • A stopwatch
  • A flat 1 mile (1.6 km) track or a treadmill
  • An accurate scale that measures your body weight in pounds
  • Optional: a heart rate monitor; otherwise, you can take your pulse manually using your fingers and the stopwatch that you have
A person walking on a treadmill.

Here are the steps for how to do the Rockport Walking Test to calculate your own VO2 max:

  1. Make sure that you have good walking shoes and comfortable clothing on.
  2. Weigh yourself and record your body weight in pounds.
  3. Find a flat course where you can walk 1 mile. Ideally, a running track that is 400 m is the best option. This is the standard track distance that you will find at your local high school track or university track. You will need to walk four laps for 1 mile. Alternatively, you can walk on the treadmill, but you should set the incline to 1% to negate the benefits of having the motorized belt pull you along. Otherwise, you can measure out a flat road course that is 1 mile long.
  4. Warm up for 5 to 10 minutes with easy walking to loosen up.
  5. When you are ready, get to the starting line of the track and start your stopwatch as you immediately begin walking as fast as you can. Try to walk as fast as possible at an even pace, but no jogging is allowed. You must remain walking the entire time.
  6. Complete all four laps of the track without stopping or the entire mile course that you have mapped out.
  7. As soon as the mile is complete, stop your stopwatch.
  8. Take your heart rate immediately. If you are using a heart rate monitor, look at the heart rate monitor for 10 to 15 seconds and take the average of the heart rate readings that you are seeing to be your Rockport Walk Test heart rate. If you do not have a heart rate monitor, immediately begin taking your pulse either by placing your fingers on your carotid artery on the right side of your neck near the front or your radial pulse on the inside of your wrist just before your hand. Count the number of heartbeats that you feel in 15 seconds using your stopwatch, and then multiply that number by four to get your heart rate in beats per minute. For example, if you count 30 heartbeats in 15 seconds while palpating your pulse, your heart rate will be 120 bpm (30 x 4).
  9. Walk at an easy pace for 5 minutes to cool down or until your heart rate is back down to resting levels and you feel comfortable.
  10. Hydrate with water.
A person speed walking.

How Do You Calculate VO2 Max From the Rockport 1 Mile Walk Test?

Once you have completed the Rockport Walking Test protocol, convert your walking time from minutes and seconds to a decimal. For example, if it took you 13 minutes and 45 seconds to complete your Rockport Walking Test, your Rockport walking time would become 13.75.

Rockport Walk Test VO2 max calculations are then done by using the formula:

  • Males: VO2max (ml/kg/min) = 132.853 – (0.0769 x weight in pounds) – (0.3877 x age) + 6.315 –  (3.2649 x mile walk time) –  (0.1565 x ending heart rate)
  • Females: VO2max (ml/kg/min) = 132.853 – (0.0769 x weight in pounds) – (0.3877 x age) –  (3.2649 x mile walk time) –  (0.1565 x ending heart rate)

Based on research, there is a correction factor for individuals between 18-24 years old: You subtract 6 ml/kg/min from the value obtained from the regular VO2 max equation above.

Accuracy of Prediction: This equation has an R= 0.88.

Two people walking on a road.

The key to improving the Rockport VO2 max Walking Test accuracy in terms of how closely this VO2 max estimation protocol predicts your actual VO2 max is by taking the heart rate immediately after finishing the mile without waiting more than a couple of seconds at most.

There are various VO2 max charts to interpret your Rockport Walking Test results.

Below, we provide VO2 max percentiles by age and sex, adapted from the Fitness Registry and the Importance of Exercise.

VO2 max percentiles allow you to more quantitatively compare your VO2 max to age- and sex-matched peers. 

For example, if you are a 44-year-old male with a VO2 max of 45 mL/kg/min, you’re in about the 75th percentile for your age. This means that your VO2 max is higher than about 75 percent of men your age.

A person walking on an indoor track.

VO2 Max Percentiles for Men

Age Group5th Percentile10th Percentile25th Percentile50th Percentile75th Percentile90th Percentile95th Percentile
A person walking fast.

VO2 Max Percentiles for Women

Age Group5th Percentile10th Percentile25th Percentile50th Percentile75th Percentile90th Percentile95th Percentile

To learn more about how to improve your VO2 max, check out our article here.

A person getting a lab vo2 max test.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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