The Chester step test is a way of gauging fitness by measuring the heart’s ability to recover from exertion.
It is often a pre-requisite for working in roles requiring a basic level of physical fitness.
The Chester step test is a sub-maximal test which requires you to step onto, and off a 30cm/12″ step (a standard gym bench), at a rate set by a metronome disc, sufficient to elicit a heart rate of around 80% max heart rate at a moderate level of exertion. It is a multi-staged test so every 2 minutes there is an increase in the rate of the step. Exercise heart rates are then plotted on a graph and an aerobic capacity and fitness rating may be calculated.
You will need to bring:
A heart rate monitor will be attached to you. You will be given a brief demonstration of the initial stepping rate (15 steps /min) which is measured with a metronome or played on a CD. You will then start stepping at the appropriate stepping rate for 2 minutes.
After the first 2 minutes of stepping, which is considered stage 1, a recording of your heart rate will be taken during the last few seconds of stepping. You may also be asked to indicate your rating of perceived exertion (RPE) from a chart numbered 6 to 20. For instance, low scores being very light exertion and high scores being very hard exertion. Providing your heart rate is below 80% of your maximum heart rate, and the RPE is below 14, you’ll be asked to continue. At this point, you will commence stepping at a slightly faster rate in stage 2 (20 steps/min).
After another 2 minutes of stepping your heart rate will be recorded. The recording is done during the last few seconds of stage 2. Once again, you may be asked to indicate your RPE from the chart provided. Providing your heart rate is below 80% of your maximum heart rate and the RPE is below 14, you’ll be asked to continue stepping. This time at the slightly faster rate in stage 3 (25 steps/min).
The test will continue until either you report an RPE greater than 14 and/or an exercise heart rate greater than 80% of your maximum heart rate (stage 4 = 30 steps/min, stage 5 = 35 steps/min). Your results will then be plotted and a decision will be made by the doctor.