Determination of Physical Fitness Index (PFI) of an Individual by Modified Harvard Step Test

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The Harvard step test is a type of cardiac stress test for diagnosis of cardiovascular diseases. It also provides the fitness of the individual based on the ability to recover after exercise.1

The Harvard Step Test (HST) was devised by Johnson et al to measure the physical fitness of individual.  It comprises stepping up and down a step that is 20 inches (50.8 cm) high at a rate of 30 times/min. There is less changes in the heart rate and faster recovery in case the fitness of the individual. This test is difficult to perform for Indians who have relatively less height. The modified Harvard step is used in India where the height of the step is lower (16.5″, i.e. 41 cm).2

The aim of the experiment is determination of Physical Fitness Index (PFI) of an individual by modified Harvard step test.

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Subjects:     Human

Apparatus: Wooden Step

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The subject is asked to be lightly clothed and take rest for 5 minutes. The subject is asked to perform stepping exercise without shoes on 41 cm high step. The subject asked to step up and down the step 30 times/min. As the signal is given, the subject places one foot on the platform, steps up places foot on the platform, straightens both legs and the back bone and then step down bringing down the same foot that he placed up first. The signal is given for every 2s interval. The subject performs the exercise as long as subject can but upto a maximum of 5 minutes. The subject is asked to relax post the exercise. The pulse rate is recorded after 1 minute. If the subject is dysnoeic, exhausted and cannot maintain the stepping rate of 30 times/min for around 20 seconds, the step test is discontinued.2

PFI score was calculated using the formula.

PFI=Total duration of exercise in seconds ×100

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The Physical fitness measures the physical fitness for muscular work & the ability to recover from the vigorous exercise.

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  1. Zakiuddin M, Saha S, Khalid Z. A cross sectional study of physical fitness index using modified Harvard step test in relation with body mass index in medical students (1st year MBBS) in Major S.D. Singh Medical College, Farrukhabad, U. P, India. J. Evolution Med. Dent. Sci. 2016;5(42):2621-2624.