Objectives: The main purpose of the present meta-analysis was to examine the criterion-related validity of the distance- and time-based walk/run tests for estimating cardiorespiratory fitness among apparently healthy children and adults.
Materials and methods: Relevant studies were searched from seven electronic bibliographic databases up to August 2015 and through other sources. The Hunter-Schmidt's psychometric meta-analysis approach was conducted to estimate the population criterion-related validity of the following walk/run tests: 5,000 m, 3 miles, 2 miles, 3,000 m, 1.5 miles, 1 mile, 1,000 m, ½ mile, 600 m, 600 yd, ¼ mile, 15 min, 12 min, 9 min, and 6 min.
Results: From the 123 included studies, a total of 200 correlation values were analyzed. The overall results showed that the criterion-related validity of the walk/run tests for estimating maximum oxygen uptake ranged from low to moderate (rp = 0.42-0.79), with the 1.5 mile (rp = 0.79, 0.73-0.85) and 12 min walk/run tests (rp = 0.78, 0.72-0.83) having the higher criterion-related validity for distance- and time-based field tests, respectively. The present meta-analysis also showed that sex, age and maximum oxygen uptake level do not seem to affect the criterion-related validity of the walk/run tests.
Conclusions: When the evaluation of an individual's maximum oxygen uptake attained during a laboratory test is not feasible, the 1.5 mile and 12 min walk/run tests represent useful alternatives for estimating cardiorespiratory fitness. As in the assessment with any physical fitness field test, evaluators must be aware that the performance score of the walk/run field tests is simply an estimation and not a direct measure of cardiorespiratory fitness.