The Canadian Home Fitness Step Test

This test was specifically developed for a fitness survey of the Canadian people in the early 1980s. It is a test of aerobic fitness which people could perform themselves at home. (see also other step tests)

purpose: this test is designed for the measurement of aerobic fitness of the general population, which is important for overall health. Performing such a test has the benefit of increasing fitness awareness, and as a rough estimate of personal fitness can be used to monitor and motivate those undertaking an exercise program.

equipment required: double 20.3 cm (8 inch) step such as may be found in most North American homes, the CHFT long-playing record or tape recording and player. If accuracy is important, the player speed should be calibrated.

pre-test: Explain the test procedures to the subject. Perform screening of health risks and obtain informed consent. Prepare forms and record basic information such as age, height, body weight, gender, test conditions. Measure and record step height. See more details of pre-test procedures.

stepping teststep test


procedure: The test is a simple, progressive, submaximal aerobic test. Subjects step up and down a double step (40.6 cm height), following the instructions and stepping rhythm as determined by recorded music (using the LP record or tape), based on their age and sex (see data table below for rhythms). Stepping is performed with a six pace cycle: one foot on the middle step, two on the top step, one on the middle step, and both feet on the ground. The subject starts with a warm up, stepping for 3 minutes at a rhythm appropriate to a person who is 10 years older than themselves (from table below). Pulse rate is measured for 10 seconds (between 5 & 15 seconds after stepping). If the pulse rate is within a specified safety zone (see table of halting criteria), stepping is recommenced at 3 minutes 25 seconds, using a rhythm appropriate to the individual's age. After another 3 minutes of stepping, the pulse is taken again. If the pulse ceiling still has not been reached, the subject continues for a third stage, at a stepping rate appropriate to a person who is 10 years younger than themselves.

results: A simple categorization of fitness (undesirable, minimum or recommended) is based upon the number of test stages the subject can complete and the heart rate count over 10 seconds between 5 - 15 seconds after finishing the final test stage. The table below shows the rating of aerobic fitness from the performance on the test, based on the heart rate count (number of beats) between 5 - 15 sec following the final test stage.

  3-minute 6-minute 6-minute
Age Undesirable Minimum Recommended
15-19 > 30 > 27 > 26
20-29 > 29 > 26 > 25
30-39 > 28 > 25 > 24
40-49 > 26 > 24 > 23
50-59 > 25 > 23 > 22
60-69 > 24 > 23 > 22

results calculation: It is also possible to convert the test result to a predicted VO2max score, using the equation by Jetté et al. (1976):

VO2max = 42.5 + 16.6 (E) - 0.12 (M) - 0.12 (HR) - 0.24 (A)

where VO2max is the aerobic power in -1.min -1, E is the energy cost of the final test stage in l.min -1  (see table below), M is the body mass in kg, HR is the heart rate in beats.min -1  and A is the subject's age in years.

comments: some practice may be required to get the required stepping frequency, and in recording the pulse rate accurately. It is important that the stepping rhythm be sustained, that the person stand upright on the top step and place both feet flat on the floor at the end of each stepping movement. The subject should also try to minimize any extraneous movements.

advantages: this test was designed to be self-administered. Other than the recording that is required, the test requires simple equipment that can be found in the home and it is easy to conduct.

disadvantages: The tape or LP recording is not readily available outside of Canada. Using the data provided here you may be able to conduct the test without the recording.

assumptions: Like other submaximal tests of aerobic fitness, this test relies on the approximate linear relationship between exercise heart rate and oxygen intake. It is also assumed that stepping exercise is performed with a known and consistent mechanical efficiency, so that the subject's net energy expenditure can be estimated from the corresponding stepping rate. In addition, it is assumed that there is a minimal decrease in the pulse rate in the first 15 seconds following the test, and that an 10 second pulse count can be recorded accurately.


  • Bailey, D.A., R.J. Shephard and R.L. Mirwald. Validation of a self-administered home test of cardiorespiratory fitness. Can. J. Appl. Sport Sci. 1: 67-78, 1976.
  • Jetté, M., J. Campbell, J. Mongeon and R. Routhier. The Canadian Home Fitness Test as a predictor of aerobic capacity. Can. Med. Assoc. J. 114: 680-682, 1976
  • Bouchard, C. and R.J. Shephard. A new approach to the interpretation of Canadian Home Fitness Test scores. Can. J. Sport Sci. In Press, 1993.
  • Fitness Canada. Canadian Standardized Test of Fitness (CSTF) Operations Manual. 3rd Ed. Ottawa: Fitness and Amateur Sport, Canada, 1986.
  • Shephard, R.J. Current status of the Canadian Home Fitness Test. Br. J. Sports Med. 14: 114-125, 1980.
  • Shephard, R.J. Fitness of a Nation. Lessons from the Canada Fitness Survey. Basel: S. Karger A.G., 1986.
  • Shephard, R.J., S. Thomas and I. Weller. The Canadian Home Fitness Test. 1991 Update. Sports Medicine 11: 358-366, 1991.

Data Tables

Ten second recovery pulse ceilings for halting the test. If the 10 second pulse count is greater than these amounts, the test should be stopped.

Age Halt at 3min
Halt at 6min: 25sec
15-19 > 30 > 27
20-29 > 29 > 26
30-39 > 28 > 25
40-49 > 26 > 24
50-59 > 25 > 23
60-69 > 24 > 23

Age and sex specific rhythms, and energy cost for each rhythm pace for use in the results equation by Jetté et al. (1976).

Age Rhythm for Women
Energy Cost
Rhythm for Men
Energy Cost
Warm-Up 66 0.94 66 1.14
15-19 120 1.63 144 2.28
20-29 114 1.49 144 2.38
30-39 114 1.49 132 2.01
40-49 102 1.32 114 1.83
50-59 84 1.05 102 1.63
60-69 84 1.05 84 1.35
Spare Music 132 1.79 156 2.77


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