The Polar Fitness Test also known as the Polar OwnIndex® test is a very practical method for measuring cardiovascular fitness. Using Polar heart rate monitor technology the test is conducted without the need to perform strenuous exercise.
Typically, cardiovascular fitness is determined by assessing your aerobic capacity via a VO2max test. Even though this test is ideal, it's not practical for most personal situations.
The VO2max test uses gas exchange measuring equipment to monitor your oxygen uptake and requires undergoing a full cardiac load. You must be in good shape and the use of expensive equipment is necessary to conduct this type of test.
So as an alternative to a full blown VO2max test, the Polar Fitness Test emerged using the latest heart rate monitor technology.
The Polar Test was developed to correlate with the more expensive VO2max test. The Polar Test does NOT REQUIRE a full cardiac load and can assess an estimate of your VO2max within 86 to 93% accuracy.
For the typical fitness enthusiast this accuracy is more than ideal.
Of course if you are an elite athlete trying to prepare for a competition then the VO2max test using gas exchange technology would be more appropriate.
So you may be asking… ”What is the significance of VO2max also known as aerobic capacity”?
VO2max is a measure of the DELIVERY and the USE of oxygen during maximal effort lasting longer than 2 minutes and shorter than 5 minutes.
VO2max is a measurement of how efficient the cardiopulmonary system is working. Cardio refers to heart and pulmonary refers to lungs.
Your aerobic capacity is the delivery of oxygen to your tissues and how well your tissues are able to utilize this oxygen.
Now that's probably more science than you wanted to know, but necessary to discuss anyway.
Polar heart rate monitors with fitness test capabilities can help you reach your fitness goals
The Polar Fitness Test is an estimate of a VO2max test. The Polar Test is 86 to 93% accurate and gives us a value that we can easily track.
The purpose of the Polar Fitness Test is to monitor progress. It's not the initial reading that is of value. It's the trend which is most important.
Conducting a test with your Polar heart rate monitor every six weeks will show if your hard work is paying off or if you need to make changes.
It's expected that a healthy adult can increase their aerobic fitness over a three-month period by 10 to 15%. This would involve working out in the MODERATE heart rate zone, 3 to 4 sessions per week, for a minimum of 30 to 40 minutes per session.
Since the Polar Test uses your resting heart rate AND your heart rate variability as part of the test… it makes sense that as these variables change your test values will change.
It can take six weeks of regular physical activity to produce changes in your resting heart rate and to reduce your heart rate variability.
For the test to be valid, certain conditions must be met:
It should be performed first thing in the morning
You and your testing environment should be relaxed and calm
You should not eat, smoke or drink 2 to 3 hours prior to the test
No talking or coughing allowed during the test
Any alcohol, drugs, or strenuous exercise from the previous day can affect the results
When you repeat the test it should always be done under the same conditions
Not all Polar heart rate monitors can perform this test. If this test is important to you and your fitness goals be sure and choose the Polar heart rate monitor that includes this feature.
Always consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program.