This Simple Test Will Tell You How Fit You Actually Are

Sure, you could run a six minute mile in high school, but enough resting on your laurels. Ever wonder how fit you actually are right now? There’s an easy fitness test you can do on your own to determine your current fitness level with pretty stellar accuracy. All you need is 60 seconds and four flights of stairs.

Ugh, stairs—the enemy of all. A few flights of stairs is enough to make even the most hardcore athletes gasp.

Ever wonder why you get so winded while you’re climbing the stairs, even if you’re relatively fit? It’s actually an incredibly rare form of high-intensity, weight bearing activity. The fact of the matter is, no matter how fit you are, if you don’t train specifically to climb stairs, you’re going to end up seriously winded after charging up a few flights.

Even people who run 5Ks all the time are likely to be huffing and puffing by that third flight. In fact, climbing stairs is estimated to be 50 percent more challenging than walking up a steep hill or lifting weights. Hitting the Stairmaster is like no other exercise out there, except maybe alpine mountaineering. It’s intense and it never gets any easier.

The Stair-Climbing Fitness Test

And that’s why stair climbing is such a stellar fitness test. If you can climb four flights of stairs in 45-55 seconds without stopping, you have an excellent fitness capacity. Yes, even if you’re panting and cursing the foolish human who invented stairs—you’re doing alright in the fitness department.

There’s real research behind these numbers. In a recent study published by the European Society of Cardiology, over 12,000 people ran on a treadmill to evaluate their heart strength. This is measured in METs (metabolic equivalents). For reference, your body uses one MET to sit at your computer, 3 METs while walking and 6 METs while jogging.

The goal for participants to achieve (and the max in this scale) is 10 METs—a strenuous run.

Senior man running.

According to the study, for every additional MET achieved, the risk of cardiovascular and cancer related death dropped by about nine percent. So, the goal is to be able to achieve 10 METs for best cardiovascular health.

So what’s the real-life equivalent to 10 METs? You guessed it: running up four flights of stairs in under a minute. If you can do that, your aerobic capacity is in excellent shape. Can’t do it? Consider that an official sign that you’re not getting enough exercise.

Go ahead and test yourself. It is yet another excellent reason to ditch the elevator and take the stairs.

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Images via Getty

93 comments

Jack Y
Jack Y12 days ago

thanks

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Jack Y
Jack Y12 days ago

thanks

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John J
John J12 days ago

thanks for sharing

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John J
John J12 days ago

thanks for sharing

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Kathy K
Kathy K25 days ago

Thanks.

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lynda leigh
lynda l26 days ago

Yet another excellent reason to ditch the elevator and take the stairs.

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Rita Delfing
Rita Delfing29 days ago

I used to love skipping into my mid 40's that took me a lot to relearn I may pick this up again.

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Maria P
Maria P29 days ago

thank you

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Jayna S
Jayna Sheatsabout a month ago

138 stairs in 90 seconds! (That's not really running; just a steady walk).
It helps to live near the ocean where there are sea cliffs and a nice set of stairs (138 to be exact), with waves crashing in the background :)

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berny p
berny pabout a month ago

thanks

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