What is the 6-minute Walk Test?

June 9, 2021

The 6-minute walk test (6MWT) is used during the LEAR Health Assessment as an alternative to the Aastrand VO2Max cycle test. The test measures functional aerobic capacity and general fitness. If you are uncomfortable on a bike or have any cardiovascular related/rheumatic conditions, then your health partner may decide to do the 6MWT instead.

Regularly used in the NHS the original purpose of the six-minute walk was to test exercise tolerance in chronic respiratory disease and heart failure. The test has since been used as a performance-based measure of functional exercise capacity in other populations including healthy older adults as well as people with rheumatic conditions such as knee or hip osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia.

The 6MWT measures the distance an individual is able to walk over a total of six minutes on a hard, flat surface. The goal is for the individual to walk as far as possible in six minutes. The individual is allowed to self-pace and rest as needed as they traverse back and forth along a marked walkway. Your health Partner will measure your 02 saturation before and after the test and also monitor your exertion level using the Borg scale.

After completed the 6MWT your health partner will be able to calculate how far someone of your gender, age, height and weight should be able to manage (according to government guidelines) and compare that with how far you managed to walk. This then gives you and your health partner a chance to set specific goals to enable you to either walk further next time or progress onto the Aastrand test on your follow up, (health permitted of course).

The LEAR journey

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