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What is the Harvard Step Test?

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Quick Answer

The Harvard Step Test is an endurance test that demands an athlete step up and down from a platform or bench at a rate of 24 steps per minute for three minutes before resting for a minute and taking his pulse, according to Harvard Medical school. It is designed to detect or diagnose cardiovascular disease and was developed at Harvard University in 1943, according to Wikipedia.

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Full Answer

The original test that used a stairwell was used by surgeons to evaluate whether or not patients were healthy enough to undergo lung operations. However, Harvard Medical School advises healthy people to build oxygen uptake levels to be two or even three times higher than what the original test demanded.

Although the Harvard Step Test is simple to execute, Harvard cautions that it is a physically demanding test and should not be undertaken if athletes have or are at risk for cardiovascular disease. For men between the ages of 18 to 35, an average pulse count between 85 to 103 is considered fair, while a pulse count of 84 or lower is considered excellent. For women in the same age range, a pulse count between 94 to 111 is considered average, with a pulse count of 93 or lower being excellent.

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