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Testing Fitness with Walking: The Balke Treadmill Test

Fitday Editor

The Balke Treadmill Test is a cardiovascular fitness test that is mainly used by athletes. This fitness test was initially developed for clinical purposes for determining VO2max in cardiac patients. People with higher VO2max scores can exercise at higher intensity levels without being tired. It's also used as a cardio endurance test, and can be performed by non-athletes as well.

Balke Treadmill Test Method

The Balke Treadmill Test requires only a stopwatch, a treadmill and can be performed indoors. For this test you have to walk on a treadmill until you're exhausted. The test is set at a constant speed while the gradient is increased. You may need an assistant for this test for keeping time and increasing the gradient at correct intervals.

Balke Treadmill Test Procedure

There are a number variations or modifications to the Balke Treadmill Test. These tests differ in the speed, increase in gradient and time at which each level changes. Speed of the treadmill and gradient increase are different for men and women. Following are the test protocols used.

For Men

The gradient starts at 0% and the speed of the treadmill is set at 3.3mph. The gradient is increased to 2% after one minute. The gradient is increased by 1% each minute thereafter.

For Women

The gradient starts at 0% for women as well. The treadmill speed is set at 3.0 mph. Every three minutes, the gradient is increased by 2.5%.

Another variation of this fitness test includes setting a constant walking speed of 3 km/h and increasing the gradient by 2.5% every two

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