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Sharkey / Forestry Step Test

The Forestry Step Test was developed by Sharkey, B.J. (1979), to evaluate the aerobic fitness of US Forestry workers. The test involves five minutes of stepping at a rate of 22.5 steps per minute (see also other step tests).

purpose: the purpose of this test is to determine aerobic fitness using a simple test and minimal equipment (see general step test procedures).

equipment required: step or platform 40 cm (15.75 inches) for males and 33 cm (13 inches) for females, stopwatch, metronome or cadence tape, body weight scales.

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. Check step height and set metronome. See more details of pre-test procedures.

Step Test Imageprocedure: Record body weight measurement in the clothing to be used for the test. The metronome is set at 90 beats per minute, to indicate the stepping rate of 22.5 steps per minute. The subject steps up and down on the step, leading with either leg. Males are to use a higher step than females. After five minutes of stepping, the subject sits down and a heart rate measurement is taken. Count the number of heart beats, starting from 15 seconds after completing the test, and stop counting 15 seconds later at 30 seconds post-exercise.

scoring: Age, post-exercise heart rate, and body weight are used to calculate maximal aerobic power, using a published table. This score can then be compared to a table of norms.

advantages: This simple test requires minimal equipment and costs, can be performed indoors or out. It is possible to self-administer this test.

disadvantages: some participants may not have the fitness or coordination to maintain the required stepping rate.

comments: this test was developed by Dr. Brian J. Sharkey, originally for testing fire fighters. Sharkey is a physiologist at the Forest Service's Missoula Technology and Development Center in Montana. He also helped develop the Work Capacity or "Pack" Test, which requires those who work on fires to carry a 45-pound pack three miles in 45 minutes.


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