Six minute walk test (6MWT) is a standardized functional test designed to assess an individual’s functional capacity. Functional capacity refers to how able someone is to perform tasks and activities that they find necessary or desirable in their lives. When an individual is sick, their ability to function may be affected; but as one gets better, they may regain their ability to function. The only way we can accurately tell your level of functional capacity is to perform a functional test, like the 6MWT.
During a 6MWT, you are asked to walk as far as possible in six minutes on a set route. If necessary, you will be asked to use adequate supplemental oxygen as recommended by the respiratory therapist during the walk. We will measure your oxygen saturation, heart rate, your perceived breathlessness and fatigue before and after the test, and the amount of rest you need during the test. The distance you covered over the six minutes will be recorded. Studies have shown that the distance walked in the 6MWT significantly increases in the first two trials but reaches a plateau by the third trial. Thus, the third trial result will give the most accurate indication of level of functional capacity.
Research studies have shown that the distance you walk during the 6MWT is directly proportional to:
- Your exercise tolerance
- Your maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max – the amount of oxygen delivered to your active body tissues, indicating your fitness level)
- Your lung function
- Your feeling of breathlessness
Six minute walk test can provide information about your level of daily activity, your well-being, and functional exercise tolerance that you need to perform your daily activities.