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The Six Minute Walk Test


Updated January 02, 2013

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

The Six Minute Walk Test is a common outcome measurement tool used in physical therapy to determine your basic exercise endurance and functional fitness. It's simple to perform, and it can help your physical therapist evaluate improvement or decline in your overall functional status during your rehabilitation program.

Performing the Six Minute Walk Test

The Six Minute Walk Test is simple to perform: you must simply walk at a comfortable pace for a total of six minutes. While walking, you may use your normal assistive device, like a cane or a walker. No person may provide assistance while you're walking, and if you need to rest during the test, you may do so as needed.

The total distance that you walk during the Six Minute Walk Test is your score. If you're unable to complete the six-minute time period, your score becomes the distance walked, and the time is also recorded.

The Six Minute Walk Test can be administered anywhere. It's often used in hospital physical therapy settings, but it can also be used in an outpatient clinic. The test is often used as a functional outcome measure in cardiac rehabilitation programs. If the test is administered in a hallway, then you must simply walk to the end of it, turn around and then walk back. You'll repeat as necessary during the six-minute test, making sure to measure your total distance.

If you're engaged in a physical therapy program to help improve your functional mobility or overall fitness level, you may want to ask your physical therapist to administer the Six Minute Walk Test. You can use your score to track your progress in therapy, and improvements in your score may help motivate you to continue to improve your overall fitness level.

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