American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine

This Official Statement of the American Thoracic Society was approved by the ATS Board of Directors March 2002

Purpose and Scope


Indications and Limitations


Safety Issues

Technical Aspects of the 6-Minute Walk Test

Required Equipment

Patient Preparation


Quality Assurance



This statement provides practical guidelines for the 6-minute walk test (6MWT). Specifically, it reviews indications, details factors that influence results, presents a brief step-by-step protocol, outlines safety measures, describes proper patient preparation and procedures, and offers guidelines for clinical interpretation of results. These recommendations are not intended to limit the use of alternative protocols for research studies. We do not discuss the general topic of clinical exercise testing.

As with other American Thoracic Society statements on pulmonary function testing, these guidelines come out of a consensus conference. Drafts were prepared by two members (P.L.E. and R.J.Z.) and were based on a comprehensive Medline literature search from 1970 through 2001, augmented by suggestions from other committee members. Each draft responded to comments from the working committee. The guidelines follow previously published methods as closely as possible and provide a rationale for each specific recommendation. The final recommendations represent a consensus of the committee. The committee recommends that these guidelines be reviewed in five years and in the meantime encourages further research in areas of controversy.

There are several modalities available for the objective evaluation of functional exercise capacity. Some provide a very complete assessment of all systems involved in exercise performance (high tech), whereas others provide basic information but are low tech and are simpler to perform. The modality used should be chosen based on the clinical question to be addressed and on available resources. The most popular clinical exercise tests in order of increasing complexity are stair climbing, a 6MWT, a shuttle-walk test, detection of exercise-induced asthma, a cardiac stress test (e.g., Bruce protocol), and a cardiopulmonary exercise test (1, 2). Other professional organizations have published standards for cardiac stress testing (3, 4).

Assessment of functional capacity has traditionally been done by merely asking patients the following: “How many flights of stairs can you climb or how many blocks can you walk?” However, patients vary in their recollection and may report overestimations or underestimations of their true functional capacity. Objective measurements are usually better than self-reports. In the early 1960s, Balke developed a simple test to evaluate the functional capacity by measuring the distance walked during a defined period of time (5). A 12-minute field performance test was then developed to evaluate the level of physical fitness of healthy individuals (6). The walking test was also adapted to assess disability in patients with chronic bronchitis (7). In an attempt to accommodate patients with respiratory disease for whom walking 12 minutes was too exhausting, a 6-minute walk was found to perform as well as the 12-minute walk (8). A recent review of functional walking tests concluded that “the 6MWT is easy to administer, better tolerated, and more reflective of activities of daily living than the other walk tests” (9).

The 6MWT is a practical simple test that requires a 100-ft hallway but no exercise equipment or advanced training for technicians. Walking is an activity performed daily by all but the most severely impaired patients. This test measures the distance that a patient can quickly walk on a flat, hard surface in a period of 6 minutes (the 6MWD). It evaluates the global and integrated responses of all the systems involved during exercise, including the pulmonary and cardiovascular systems, systemic circulation, peripheral circulation, blood, neuromuscular units, and muscle metabolism. It does not provide specific information on the function of each of the different organs and systems involved in exercise or the mechanism of exercise limitation, as is possible with maximal cardiopulmonary exercise testing. The self-paced 6MWT assesses the submaximal level of functional capacity. Most patients do not achieve maximal exercise capacity during the 6MWT; instead, they choose their own intensity of exercise and are allowed to stop and rest during the test. However, because most activities of daily living are performed at submaximal levels of exertion, the 6MWD may better reflect the functional exercise level for daily physical activities.

The strongest indication for the 6MWT is for measuring the response to medical interventions in patients with moderate to severe heart or lung disease. The 6MWT has also been used as a one-time measure of functional status of patients, as well as a predictor of morbidity and mortality (see Table 1

TABLE 1. Indications for the six-minute walk test

Pretreatment and posttreatment comparisons
Lung transplantation (9, 10)
Lung resection (11)
Lung volume reduction surgery (12, 13)
Pulmonary rehabilitation (14, 15)
COPD (16–18)
Pulmonary hypertension
Heart failure (19, 20)
Functional status (single measurement)
COPD (21, 22)
Cystic fibrosis (23, 24)
Heart failure (25–27)
Peripheral vascular disease (28, 29)
Fibromyalgia (30)
Older patients (31)
Predictor of morbidity and mortality
Heart failure (32, 33)
COPD (34, 35)
Primary pulmonary hypertension (10, 36)

Definition of abbreviation: COPD = chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

for a list of these indications). The fact that investigators have used the 6MWT in these settings does not prove that the test is clinically useful (or the best test) for determining functional capacity or changes in functional capacity due to an intervention in patients with these diseases. Further studies are necessary to determine the utility of the 6MWT in various clinical situations.

Formal cardiopulmonary exercise testing provides a global assessment of the exercise response, an objective determination of functional capacity and impairment, determination of the appropriate intensity needed to perform prolonged exercise, quantification of factors limiting exercise, and a definition of the underlying pathophysiologic mechanisms such as the contribution of different organ systems involved in exercise. The 6MWT does not determine peak oxygen uptake, diagnose the cause of dyspnea on exertion, or evaluate the causes or mechanisms of exercise limitation (1, 2). The information provided by a 6MWT should be considered complementary to cardiopulmonary exercise testing, not a replacement for it. Despite the difference between these two functional tests, some good correlations between them have been reported. For example, a significant correlation (r = 0.73) between 6MWD and peak oxygen uptake has been reported for patients with end-stage lung diseases (36).

In some clinical situations, the 6MWT provides information that may be a better index of the patient's ability to perform daily activities than is peak oxygen uptake; for example, 6MWD correlates better with formal measures of quality of life (37). Changes in 6MWD after therapeutic interventions correlate with subjective improvement in dyspnea (38, 39). The reproducibility of the 6MWD (with a coefficient of variation of approximately 8%) appears to be better than the reproducibility of 1-second forced expiratory volume in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (8, 3942). Questionnaire indices of functional status have a larger short-term variability (22–33%) than does the 6MWD (37).

The shuttle-walking test is similar to the 6MWT, but it uses an audio signal from a tape cassette to direct the walking pace of the patient back and forth on a 10-m course (4345). The walking speed is increased every minute, and the test ends when the patient cannot reach the turnaround point within the required time. The exercise performed is similar to a symptom-limited, maximal, incremental treadmill test. An advantage of the shuttle walking test is that it has a better correlation with peak oxygen uptake than the 6MWD (46, 47). Disadvantages include less validation, less widespread use, and more potential for cardiovascular problems.

Absolute contraindications for the 6MWT include the following: unstable angina during the previous month and myocardial infarction during the previous month. Relative contraindications include a resting heart rate of more than 120, a systolic blood pressure of more than 180 mm Hg, and a diastolic blood pressure of more than 100 mm Hg.

Patients with any of these findings should be referred to the physician ordering or supervising the test for individual clinical assessment and a decision about the conduct of the test. The results from a resting electrocardiogram done during the previous 6 months should also be reviewed before testing. Stable exertional angina is not an absolute contraindication for a 6MWT, but patients with these symptoms should perform the test after using their antiangina medication, and rescue nitrate medication should be readily available.


Patients with the previously mentioned risk factors may be at increased risk for arrhythmias or cardiovascular collapse during testing. However, each patient determines the intensity of their exercise, and the test (without electrocardiogram monitoring) has been performed in thousands of older persons (31, 48) and thousands of patients with heart failure or cardiomyopathy (32, 49, 50) without serious adverse events. The contraindications listed previously here were used by study investigators based on their impressions of the general safety of the 6MWT and their desire to be prudent, but it is unknown whether adverse events would occur if such patients performed a 6MWT; they are, therefore, listed as relative contraindications.

  1. Testing should be performed in a location where a rapid, appropriate response to an emergency is possible. The appropriate location of a crash cart should be determined by the physician supervising the facility.

  2. Supplies that must be available include oxygen, sublingual nitroglycerine, aspirin, and albuterol (metered dose inhaler or nebulizer). A telephone or other means should be in place to enable a call for help.

  3. The technician should be certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation with a minimum of Basic Life Support by an American Health Association–approved cardiopulmonary resuscitation course. Advanced cardiac life support certification is desirable. Training, experience, and certification in related health care fields (registered nurse, registered respiratory therapist, certified pulmonary function technician, etc.) are also desirable. A certified individual should be readily available to respond if needed.

  4. Physicians are not required to be present during all tests. The physician ordering the test or a supervising laboratory physician may decide whether physician attendance at a specific test is required.

  5. If a patient is on chronic oxygen therapy, oxygen should be given at their standard rate or as directed by a physician or a protocol.

Reasons for immediately stopping a 6MWT include the following: (1) chest pain, (2) intolerable dyspnea, (3) leg cramps, (4) staggering, (5) diaphoresis, and (6) pale or ashen appearance.

Technicians must be trained to recognize these problems and the appropriate responses. If a test is stopped for any of these reasons, the patient should sit or lie supine as appropriate depending on the severity or the event and the technician's assessment of the severity of the event and the risk of syncope. The following should be obtained based on the judgment of the technician: blood pressure, pulse rate, oxygen saturation, and a physician evaluation. Oxygen should be administered as appropriate.


The 6MWT should be performed indoors, along a long, flat, straight, enclosed corridor with a hard surface that is seldom traveled. If the weather is comfortable, the test may be performed outdoors. The walking course must be 30 m in length. A 100-ft hallway is, therefore, required. The length of the corridor should be marked every 3 m. The turnaround points should be marked with a cone (such as an orange traffic cone). A starting line, which marks the beginning and end of each 60-m lap, should be marked on the floor using brightly colored tape.


A shorter corridor requires patients to take more time to reverse directions more often, reducing the 6MWD. Most studies have used a 30-m corridor (51), but some have used 20- or 50-m corridors (52, 53). A recent multicenter study found no significant effect of the length of straight courses ranging from 50 to 164 ft, but patients walked farther on continuous (oval) tracks (mean 92 ft farther) (54).

The use of a treadmill to determine the 6MWD might save space and allow constant monitoring during the exercise, but the use of a treadmill for 6-minute walk testing is not recommended. Patients are unable to pace themselves on a treadmill. In one study of patients with severe lung disease, the mean distance walked on the treadmill during 6 minutes (with the speed adjusted by the patients) was shorter by a mean of 14% when compared with the standard 6MWD using a 100-ft hallway (55). The range of differences was wide, with patients walking between 400–1,300 ft on the treadmill who walked 1,200 ft in the hallway. Treadmill test results, therefore, are not interchangeable with corridor tests.

  1. Countdown timer (or stopwatch)

  2. Mechanical lap counter

  3. Two small cones to mark the turnaround points

  4. A chair that can be easily moved along the walking course

  5. Worksheets on a clipboard

  6. A source of oxygen

  7. Sphygmomanometer

  8. Telephone

  9. Automated electronic defibrillator

  1. Comfortable clothing should be worn.

  2. Appropriate shoes for walking should be worn.

  3. Patients should use their usual walking aids during the test (cane, walker, etc.).

  4. The patient's usual medical regimen should be continued.

  5. A light meal is acceptable before early morning or early afternoon tests.

  6. Patients should not have exercised vigorously within 2 hours of beginning the test.

  1. Repeat testing should be performed about the same time of day to minimize intraday variability.

  2. A “warm-up” period before the test should not be performed.

  3. The patient should sit at rest in a chair, located near the starting position, for at least 10 minutes before the test starts. During this time, check for contraindications, measure pulse and blood pressure, and make sure that clothing and shoes are appropriate. Compete the first portion of the worksheet (see the Appendix).

  4. Pulse oximetry is optional. If it is performed, measure and record baseline heart rate and oxygen saturation (SpO2) and follow manufacturer's instructions to maximize the signal and to minimize motion artifact (56). Make sure the readings are stable before recording. Note pulse regularity and whether the oximeter signal quality is acceptable.

The rationale for measuring oxygen saturation is that although the distance is the primary outcome measure, improvement during serial evaluations may be manifest either by an increased distance or by reduced symptoms with the same distance walked (38). The SpO2 should not be used for constant monitoring during the exercise. The technician must not walk with the patient to observe the SpO2. If worn during the walk, the pulse oximeter must be lightweight (less than 2 pounds), battery powered, and held in place (perhaps by a “fanny pack”) so that the patient does not have to hold or stabilize it and so that stride is not affected. Many pulse oximeters have considerable motion artifact that prevents accurate readings during the walk (57).

  1. Have the patient stand and rate their baseline dyspnea and overall fatigue using the Borg scale (see Table 2

    TABLE 2. The borg scale


    Nothing at all
    0.5Very, very slight (just noticeable)
    1Very slight
    2Slight (light)
    4Somewhat severe
    5Severe (heavy)
    7Very severe
    Very, very severe (maximal)

    This Borg scale should be printed on heavy paper (11 inches high and perhaps laminated) in 20-point type size. At the beginning of the 6-minute exercise, show the scale to the patient and ask the patient this: “Please grade your level of shortness of breath using this scale.” Then ask this: “Please grade your level of fatigue using this scale.”

    At the end of the exercise, remind the patient of the breathing number that they chose before the exercise and ask the patient to grade their breathing level again. Then ask the patient to grade their level of fatigue, after reminding them of their grade before the exercise.

    for the Borg scale and instructions [58]).

  2. Set the lap counter to zero and the timer to 6 minutes. Assemble all necessary equipment (lap counter, timer, clipboard, Borg Scale, worksheet) and move to the starting point.

  3. Instruct the patient as follows:

“The object of this test is to walk as far as possible for 6 minutes. You will walk back and forth in this hallway. Six minutes is a long time to walk, so you will be exerting yourself. You will probably get out of breath or become exhausted. You are permitted to slow down, to stop, and to rest as necessary. You may lean against the wall while resting, but resume walking as soon as you are able.

You will be walking back and forth around the cones. You should pivot briskly around the cones and continue back the other way without hesitation. Now I'm going to show you. Please watch the way I turn without hesitation.”

Demonstrate by walking one lap yourself. Walk and pivot around a cone briskly.

“Are you ready to do that? I am going to use this counter to keep track of the number of laps you complete. I will click it each time you turn around at this starting line. Remember that the object is to walk AS FAR AS POSSIBLE for 6 minutes, but don't run or jog.

Start now, or whenever you are ready.”

  1. Position the patient at the starting line. You should also stand near the starting line during the test. Do not walk with the patient. As soon as the patient starts to walk, start the timer.

  2. Do not talk to anyone during the walk. Use an even tone of voice when using the standard phrases of encouragement. Watch the patient. Do not get distracted and lose count of the laps. Each time the participant returns to the starting line, click the lap counter once (or mark the lap on the worksheet). Let the participant see you do it. Exaggerate the click using body language, like using a stopwatch at a race.

After the first minute, tell the patient the following (in even tones): “You are doing well. You have 5 minutes to go.”

When the timer shows 4 minutes remaining, tell the patient the following: “Keep up the good work. You have 4 minutes to go.”

When the timer shows 3 minutes remaining, tell the patient the following: “You are doing well. You are halfway done.”

When the timer shows 2 minutes remaining, tell the patient the following: “Keep up the good work. You have only 2 minutes left.”

When the timer shows only 1 minute remaining, tell the patient: “You are doing well. You have only 1 minute to go.”

Do not use other words of encouragement (or body language to speed up).

If the patient stops walking during the test and needs a rest, say this: “You can lean against the wall if you would like; then continue walking whenever you feel able.” Do not stop the timer. If the patient stops before the 6 minutes are up and refuses to continue (or you decide that they should not continue), wheel the chair over for the patient to sit on, discontinue the walk, and note on the worksheet the distance, the time stopped, and the reason for stopping prematurely.

When the timer is 15 seconds from completion, say this: “In a moment I'm going to tell you to stop. When I do, just stop right where you are and I will come to you.”

When the timer rings (or buzzes), say this: “Stop!” Walk over to the patient. Consider taking the chair if they look exhausted. Mark the spot where they stopped by placing a bean bag or a piece of tape on the floor.

  1. Post-test: Record the postwalk Borg dyspnea and fatigue levels and ask this: “What, if anything, kept you from walking farther?”

  2. If using a pulse oximeter, measure SpO2 and pulse rate from the oximeter and then remove the sensor.

  3. Record the number of laps from the counter (or tick marks on the worksheet).

  4. Record the additional distance covered (the number of meters in the final partial lap) using the markers on the wall as distance guides. Calculate the total distance walked, rounding to the nearest meter, and record it on the worksheet.

  5. Congratulate the patient on good effort and offer a drink of water.

Sources of Variability

There are many sources of 6MWD variability (see Table 3)

TABLE 3. 6MWD sources of variability

Factors reducing the 6MWD
Shorter height
Older age
Higher body weight
Female sex
Impaired cognition
A shorter corridor (more turns)
Pulmonary disease (COPD, asthma, cystic fibrosis, interstitial lung disease)
Cardiovascular disease (angina, MI, CHF, stroke, TIA, PVD, AAI)
Musculoskeletal disorders (arthritis, ankle, knee, or hip injuries, muscle wasting, etc.)
Factors increasing the 6MWD
Taller height (longer legs)
Male sex
High motivation
A patient who has previously performed the test
Medication for a disabling disease taken just before the test
Oxygen supplementation in patients with exercise-induced hypoxemia

Definition of abbreviations: COPD = chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; 6MWD = 6-minute walking distance.

. The sources of variability caused by the test procedure itself should be controlled as much as possible. This is done by following the standards found in this document and by using a quality-assurance program.

Practice Tests

A practice test is not needed in most clinical settings but should be considered. If a practice test is done, wait for at least 1 hour before the second test and report the highest 6MWD as the patient's 6MWD baseline.


The 6MWD is only slightly higher for a second 6MWT performed a day later. The mean reported increase ranges from 0 to 17% (23, 27, 40, 41, 54, 59). A multicenter study of 470 highly motivated patients with severe COPD performed two 6MWTs 1 day apart, and on average, the 6MWD was only 66 ft (5.8%) higher on the second day (54).

Performance (without an intervention) usually reaches a plateau after two tests done within a week (8, 60). The training effect may be due to improved coordination, finding optimal stride length, and overcoming anxiety. The possibility of a practice or training effect from tests repeated after more than a month has not been studied or reported; however, it is likely that the effect of training wears off (does not persist) after a few weeks.

Technician Training and Experience

Technicians who perform 6MWTs should be trained using the standard protocol and then supervised for several tests before performing them alone. They should also have completed cardiopulmonary resuscitation training.


One multicenter study of older people found that after correction for many other factors, two of the technicians had mean 6MWDs that were approximately 7% lower than the other two sites (31).


Only the standardized phrases for encouragement (as specified previously here) must be used during the test.


Encouragement significantly increases the distance walked (42). Reproducibility for tests with and without encouragement is similar. Some studies have used encouragement every 30 seconds, every minute, or every 2 minutes. We have chosen every minute and standard phrases. Some studies (53) have instructed patients to walk as fast as possible. Although larger mean 6MWDs may be obtained thereby, we recommend that such phrases not be used, as they emphasize initial speed at the expense of earlier fatigue and possible excessive cardiac stress in some patients with heart disease.

Supplemental Oxygen

If oxygen supplementation is needed during the walks and serial tests are planned (after an intervention other than oxygen therapy), then during all walks by that patient oxygen should be delivered in the same way with the same flow. If the flow must be increased during subsequent visits due to worsening gas exchange, this should be noted on the worksheet and considered during interpretation of the change noted in 6MWD. The type of oxygen delivery device should also be noted on the report: for instance, the patient carried liquid oxygen or pushed or pulled an oxygen tank, the delivery was pulsed or continuous, or a technician walked behind the patient with the oxygen source (not recommended). Measurements of pulse and SpO2 should be made after waiting at least 10 minutes after any change in oxygen delivery.


For patients with COPD or interstitial lung disease, oxygen supplementation increases the 6MWD (17, 59, 61). Carrying a portable gas container (but not using it for supplemental oxygen) reduced the mean 6MWD by 14% in one study of patients with severe respiratory disability, but using the container to deliver supplemental oxygen during the exercise increased the mean 6MWD by 20–36% (59).


The type of medication, dose, and number of hours taken before the test should be noted.


Significant improvement in the distance walked, or the dyspnea scale, after administration of bronchodilators has been demonstrated in patients with COPD (62, 63), as well as cardiovascular medications in patients with heart failure (19).

Most 6MWTs will be done before and after intervention, and the primary question to be answered after both tests have been completed is whether the patient has experienced a clinically significant improvement. With a good quality-assurance program, with patients tested by the same technician, and after one or two practice tests, short-term reproducibility of the 6MWD is excellent (36). It is not known whether it is best for clinical purposes to express change in 6MWD as (1) an absolute value, (2) a percentage change, or (3) a change in the percentage of predicted value. Until further research is available, we recommend that change in 6MWD be expressed as an absolute value (e.g., the patient walked 50 m farther).

A statistically significant mean increase in 6MWD in a group of study participants is often much less than a clinically significant increase in an individual patient. In one study of 112 patients (half of them women) with stable, severe COPD, the smallest difference in 6MWD that was associated with a noticeable clinical difference in the patients' perception of exercise performance was a mean of 54 m (95% confidence interval, 37–71 m) (64). This study suggests that for individual patients with COPD, an improvement of more than 70 m in the 6MWD after an intervention is necessary to be 95% confident that the improvement was significant. In an observational study of 45 older patients with heart failure, the smallest difference in 6MWD that was associated with a noticeable difference in their global rating of worsening was a mean of 43 m (20). The 6MWD was more responsive to deterioration than to improvement in heart failure symptoms.

Reported Mean Changes in 6MWD After Interventions

Supplemental oxygen (6 L/min) during exercise in patients with COPD or interstitial lung disease increased mean 6MWD by approximately 83 m (36%) in one study (59). Patients taking an inhaled corticosteroid experienced a mean 33 m (8%) increase in 6MWD in an international COPD study (16). Patients with COPD in a study of the effects of exercise and diaphragmatic strength training experienced a mean increase in 6MWD of 50 m (20%) (65). Lung volume reduction surgery in patients with very severe COPD has been reported to increase 6MWD by a mean of 55 m (20%) (13).

Cardiac rehabilitation in patients referred with various heart diseases increased 6MWD by a mean of 170 m (15%) in a recent study (66). In 25 older patients with heart failure, an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor medication (50 mg captopril per day) improved 6MWD a mean of 64 m (39%) compared with a mean increase of only 8% in those receiving a placebo (19).

Interpreting Single Measurements of Functional Status

Optimal reference equations from healthy population-based samples using standardized 6MWT methods are not yet available. In one study, the median 6MWD was approximately 580 m for 117 healthy men and 500 m for 173 healthy women (48). A mean 6MWD of 630 m was reported by another study of 51 healthy older adults (53). Differences in the population sampled, type and frequency of encouragement, corridor length, and number of practice tests may account for reported differences in mean 6MWD in healthy persons. Age, height, weight, and sex independently affect the 6MWD in healthy adults; therefore, these factors should be taken into consideration when interpreting the results of single measurements made to determine functional status. We encourage investigators to publish reference equations for healthy persons using the previously mentioned standardized procedures.

A low 6MWD is nonspecific and nondiagnostic. When the 6MWD is reduced, a thorough search for the cause of the impairment is warranted. The following tests may then be helpful: pulmonary function, cardiac function, ankle–arm index, muscle strength, nutritional status, orthopedic function, and cognitive function.


The 6MWT is a useful measure of functional capacity targeted at people with at least moderately severe impairment. The test has been widely used for preoperative and postoperative evaluation and for measuring the response to therapeutic interventions for pulmonary and cardiac disease. These guidelines provide a standardized approach to performing the 6MWT. The committee hopes that these guidelines will encourage further research into the 6MWT and allow direct comparisons among different studies.

APPENDIXThe following elements should be present on the 6MWT worksheet and report:Lap counter:  __ __ __ __ __  __ __ __ __ __  __ __ __ __ __
 Patient name: ____________________      Patient ID# ___________
 Walk # ______    Tech ID: _________ Date: __________
 Gender: M F  Age: ____  Race: ____  Height: ___ft ____in, ____ meters
 Weight: ______ lbs, _____kg      Blood pressure: _____ / _____
 Medications taken before the test (dose and time): __________________
 Supplemental oxygen during the test: No  Yes, flow ______ L/min, type _____BaselineEnd of Test Time___:______:___ Heart Rate__________ Dyspnea________ (Borg scale) Fatigue________ (Borg scale) SpO2____ %____%Stopped or paused before 6 minutes? No  Yes, reason: _______________
 Other symptoms at end of exercise: angina  dizziness  hip, leg, or calf pain
 Number of laps: ____ (×60 meters) + final partial lap: _____ meters =
 Total distance walked in 6 minutes: ______ meters
 Predicted distance: _____ meters    Percent predicted: _____%
 Tech comments:
  Interpretation (including comparison with a preintervention 6MWD):

This statement was developed by the ATS Committee on Proficiency Standards for Clinical Pulmonary Function Laboratories.

Members of the committee are:

Robert O. Crapo, M.D., Chair *

Richard Casaburi, Ph.D, M.D.

Allan L. Coates, M.D.

Paul L. Enright, M.D.*

Neil R. MacIntyre, M.D.

Roy T. McKay, Ph.D.

Douglas Johnson, M.D.

Jack S. Wanger, M.S.

R. Jorge Zeballos, M.D.*

Ad Hoc Committee members are:

Vera Bittner, M.D.

Carl Mottram, R.R.T.

*Writing Committee Members

1. Wasserman K, Hansen JE, Sue DY, Casaburi R, Whipp BJ. Principles of exercise testing and interpretation, 3rd edition. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins; 1999.
2. Weisman IM, Zeballos RJ. An integrated approach to the interpretation of cardiopulmonary exercise testing. Clin Chest Med 1994;15:421–445.
3. Fletcher GF, Balady G, Froelicher VF, Hartley LH, Haskell WL, Pollock ML. Exercise standards: a statement for healthcare professionals from the American Heart Association: writing group. Circulation 1995; 91:580–615.
4. Pina IL, Balady GJ, Hanson P, Labovitz AJ, Madonna DW, Myers J. Guidelines for clinical exercise testing laboratories: a statement for healthcare professionals from the Committee on Exercise and Cardiac Rehabilitation, American Heart Association. Circulation 1995;91:912–921.
5. Balke B. A simple field test for the assessment of physical fitness. CARI Report 1963;63:18.
6. Cooper KH. A means of assessing maximal oxygen intake: correlation between field and treadmill testing. JAMA 1968;203:201–204.
7. McGavin CR, Gupta SP, McHardy GJR. Twelve-minute walking test for assessing disability in chronic bronchitis. BMJ 1976;1:822–823.
8. Butland RJA, Pang J, Gross ER, Woodcock AA, Geddes DM. Two-, six-, and 12-minute walking tests in respiratory disease. BMJ 1982; 284:1607–1608.
9. Solway S, Brooks D, Lacasse Y, Thomas S. A qualitative systematic overview of the measurement properties of functional walk tests used in the cardiorespiratory domain. Chest 2001;119:256–270.
10. Kadikar A, Maurer J, Kesten S. The six-minute walk test: a guide to assessment for lung transplantation. J Heart Lung Transplant 1997;16: 313–319.
11. Holden DA, Rice TW, Stelmach K, Meeker DP. Exercise testing, 6 min walk, and stair climb in the evaluation of patients at high risk for pulmonary resection. Chest 1992;102:1774–1779.
12. Sciurba FC, Rogers RM, Keenan RJ, Slivka WA, Gorcsan J 3rd, Ferson PF, Holbert JM, Brown ML, Landreneau RJ. Improvement in pulmonary function and elastic recoil after lung-reduction surgery for diffuse emphysema. N Engl J Med 1996;334:1095–1099.
13. Criner GJ, Cordova FC, Furukawa S, Kuzma AM, Travaline JM, Leyenson V, O'Brien GM. Prospective randomized trial comparing bilateral lung volume reduction surgery to pulmonary rehabilitation in severe COPD. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 1999;160:2018–2027.
14. Sinclair DJM, Ingram CG. Controlled trial of supervised exercise training in chronic bronchitis. BMJ 1980;280:519–521.
15. Roomi J, Johnson MM, Waters K, Yohannes A, Helm A, Connolly MJ. Respiratory rehabilitation, exercise capacity and quality of life in chronic airways disease in old age. Age Ageing 1996;25:12–16.
16. Paggiaro PL, Dahle R, Bakran I, Frith L, Hollingworth K, Efthimiou J. Multicentre randomised placebo-controlled trial of inhaled fluticasone propionate in patients with COPD. Lancet 1998;351:773–780.
17. Leggett RJ, Flenley DC. Portable oxygen and exercise tolerance in patients with chronic hypoxic cor pulmonale. BMJ 1977;2:84–86.
18. Spence DPS, Hay JG, Carter J, Pearson MG, Calverley PMA. Oxygen desaturation and breathlessness during corridor walking in COPD: effect of oxitropium bromide. Thorax 1993;48:1145–1150.
19. DeBock V, Mets T, Romagnoli M, Derde MP. Captopril treatment of chronic heart failure in the very old. J Gerontol 1994;49:M148–M152.
20. O'Keeffe ST, Lye M, Donnnellan C, Carmichael DN. Reproducibility and responsiveness of quality of life assessment and six minute walk test in elderly heart failure patients. Heart 1998;80:377–382.
21. Bernstein ML, Despars JA, Singh NP, Avalos K, Stansbury DW, Light RW. Re-analysis of the 12 minute walk in patients with COPD. Chest 1994;105:163–167.
22. Hajiro T, Nishimura K, Tsukino M, Ikeda A, Koyama H, Izumi T. Analysis of clinical methods used to evaluate dyspnea in patients with COPD. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 1998;158:1185–1189.
23. Gulmans VAM, vanVeldhoven NHMJ, deMeer K, Helders PJM. The six-minute walking test in children with cystic fibrosis: reliability and validity. Pediatr Pulmonol 1996;22:85–89.
24. Nixon PA, Joswiak ML, Fricker FJ. A six-minute walk test for assessing exercise tolerance in severely ill children. J Pediatr 1996;129:362–366.
25. Bittner V. Six-minute walk test in patients with cardiac dysfunction. Cardiologia 1997;42:897–902.
26. Peeters P, Mets T. The 6 minute walk as an appropriate exercise test in elderly patients with chronic heart failure. J Gerontol 1996;51A: M147–M151.
27. Zugck C, Kruger C, Durr S, Gerber SH, Haunstetter A, Hornig K, Kubler W, Haass M. Is the 6-minute walk test a reliable substitute for peak oxygen uptake in patients with dilated cardiomyopathy? Eur Heart J 2000;21:540–549.
28. Montogomery PS, Gardner AW. The clinical utility of a six-minute walk test in peripheral arterial occlusive disease patients. J Am Geriatr Soc 1998;46:706–711.
29. Cahan MA, Montgomery P, Otis RB, Clancy R, Flinn W, Gardner A. The effect of cigarette smoking status on six-minute walk distance in patients with intermittent claudication. Angiology 1999;50:537–546.
30. King S, Wessel J, Bhambhani Y, Maikala R, Sholter D, Maksymowych W. Validity and reliability of the 6 minute walk in persons with fibromyalgia. J Rheumatol 1999;26:2233–2237.
31. Enright PL, McBurnie MA, Bittner V, Tracy RP, McNamara R, Newman AB, the Cardiovascular Health Study. The six minute walk test: a quick measure of functional status in elderly adults. Chest (In press)
32. Bittner V, Weiner DH, Yusuf S, Rogers WJ, McIntyre KM, Bangdiwala SI, Kronenberg MW, Kostis JB, Kohn RM, Guillotte M, et al. Prediction of mortality and morbidity with a 6-minute walk test in patients with left ventricular dysfunction. JAMA 1993;270:1702–1707.
33. Cahalin LP, Mathier MA, Semigran MJ, Dec GW, DiSalvo TG. The six-minute walk test predicts peak oxygen uptake and survival in patients with advanced heart failure. Chest 1996;110:325–332.
34. Cote CG, Celli BR. In patients with COPD, the 6 minute walking distance is a better predictor of health care utilization than FEV1, blood gases, and dyspnea [abstract]. Eur Respir J 1998;383.
35. Kessler R, Faller M, Fourgaut G, Mennecier B, Weitzenblum E. Predictive factors of hospitalization for acute exacerbation in a series of 64 patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 1999;159:158–164.
36. Cahalin L, Pappagianopoulos P, Prevost S, Wain J, Ginns L. The relationship of the 6-min walk test to maximal oxygen consumption in transplant candidates with end-stage lung disease. Chest 1995;108:452–459.
37. Guyatt GH, Thompson PJ, Berman LB, Sullivan MJ, Townsend M, Jones NL, Pugsley SO. How should we measure function in patients with chronic heart and lung disease? J Chronic Dis 1985;38:517–524.
38. Guyatt GH, Townsend M, Keller J, Singer J, Nogradi S. Measuring functional status in chronic lung disease: conclusions from a random control trial. Respir Med 1991;85(Suppl B):17–21.
39. Niederman MS, Clemente PH, Fein AM, Feinsilver SH, Robinson DA, Ilowite JS, Bernstein MG. Benefits of a multidisciplinary pulmonary rehabilitation program: improvements are independent of lung function. Chest 1991;99:798–804.
40. Noseda A, Carpiaux J, Prigogine T, Schmerber J. Lung function, maximum and submaximum exercise testing in COPD patients: reproducibility over a long interval. Lung 1989;167:247–257.
41. Knox AJ, Morrison JF, Muers MF. Reproducibility of walking test results in chronic obstructive airways disease. Thorax 1988;43:388–392.
42. Guyatt GH, Pugsley SO, Sullivan MJ, Thompson PJ, Berman LB, Jones NL, Fallen EL, Taylor DW. Effect of encouragement on walking test performance. Thorax 1984;39:818–822.
43. Leger LA. A maximal multistage 20-m shuttle run test to predict VO2 max. Eur J Appl Physiol 1982;49:1–12.
44. Singh SJ, Morgan MDL, Scott S, Walters D, Hardman AE. Development of a shuttle walking test of disability in patients with chronic airways obstruction. Thorax 1992;47:1019–1024.
45. Revill SM, Morgan MDL, Singh SJ, Williams J, Hardman AE. The endurance shuttle walk: a new field test for the assessment of endurance capacity in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Thorax 1999;54:213–222.
46. Singh SJ, Morgan MDL, Hardman AE, Rowe C, Bardsley PA. Comparison of oxygen uptake during a conventional treadmill test and the shuttle walking test in chronic airflow limitation. Eur Respir J 1994;7: 2016–2020.
47. Morales FJ, Martinez A, Mendez M, Agarrado A, Ortega F, Fernandez-Guerra J, Montemayor T, Burgos J. A shuttle walk test for assessment of functional capacity in chronic heart failure. Am Heart J 1999;138:292–298.
48. Enright PL, Sherrill DL. Reference equations for the six-minute walk in healthy adults. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 1998;158:1384–1387.
49. Barst RJ, Rubin LJ, McGoon MD, Caldwell EJ. Long WA, Levy PS. Survival in primary pulmonary hypertension with long-term continuous intravenous prostacyclin. Ann Intern Med 1994;121:409–415.
50. Miyamoto S, Nagaya N, Satoh T, Kyotani S, Sakamaki F, Fujita M, Nakanishi N, Miyatake K. Clinical correlates and prognostic significance of six-minute walk test in patients with primary pulmonary hypertension. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2000;161:487–492.
51. Guyatt GH, Sullivan MJ, Thompson PJ, Fallen EL, Pugsley SO, Taylor DW, Berman LB. The 6-minute walk: a new measure of exercise capacity in patients with chronic heart failure. Can Med Assoc J 1985; 132:919–923.
52. Lipkin DP, Scrivin AJ, Crake T, Poole-Wilson PA. Six minute walking test for assessing exercise capacity in chronic heart failure. BMJ 1986; 292:653–655.
53. Troosters T, Gosselink R, Decramer M. Six minute walking distance in healthy elderly subjects. Eur Respir J 1999;14:270–274.
54. Weiss RA, et al. Six minute walk test in severe COPD: reliability and effect of walking course layout and length. Paper presented at ACCP Conference; September 2000; San Francisco.
55. Stevens D, Elpern E, Sharma K, Szidon P, Ankin M, Kesten S. Comparison of hallway and treadmill six-minute walk tests. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 1999;160:1540–1543.
56. Jensen LA, Onyskiw JE, Prasad NGN. Meta-analysis of arterial oxygen saturation monitoring by pulse oximetry in adults. Heart Lung 1998; 27:387–408.
57. Barthelemy JC, Geyssant A, Riffat J, Antoniadis A, Berruyer J, LaCour JR. Accuracy of pulse oximetry during moderate exercise: a comparative study. Scand J Clin Lab Invest 1990;50:533–539.
58. Borg GAV. Psycho-physical bases of perceived exertion. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1982;14:377–381.
59. Leach RM, Davidson AC, Chinn S, Twort CHC, Cameron IR, Batemen NT. Portable liquid oxygen and exercise ability in severe respiratory disability. Thorax 1992;47:781–789.
60. Mungall IPF, Hainsworth R. Assessment of respiratory function in patients with chronic obstructive airways disease. Thorax 1979;34:254–258.
61. Roberts CM, Bell J, Wedzicha JA. Comparison of the efficacy of a demand oxygen delivery system with continuous low flow oxygen in subjects with stable COPD and severe oxygen desaturation on walking. Thorax 1996;51:831–834.
62. Hay JG, Stone P, Carter J, Church S, Eyre-Brook A, Pearson MG, Woodcock AA, Calverley PM. Bronchodilator reversibility, exercise performance and breathlessness in stable chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Eur Respir J 1992;5:659–664.
63. Grove A, Lipworth BJ, Reid P, Smith RP, Lamage L, Ingram CG, Jenkins RJ, Winter JH, Dhillon DP. Effects of regular salmeterol on lung function and exercise capacity in patients with COPD. Thorax 1996;51:689–693.
64. Redelmeier DA, Bayoumi AM, Goldstein RS, Guyatt GH. Interpreting small differences in functional status: The six minute walk test in chronic lung disease patients. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 1997;155:1278–1282.
65. Weiner P, Magadle R, Berar-Yanay N, Davidovich A, Weiner M. The cumulative effect of long-acting bronchodilators, exercise, and inspiratory muscle training on the perception of dyspnea in patients with advanced COPD. Chest 2000;118:672–678.
66. Bittner V, Sanderson B, Breland J, Adams C, Schuman C. Assessing functional capacity as an outcome in cardiac rehabilitation: role of the 6 minute walk test. Clinical Exercise Physiology 2000.
American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine

Click to see any corrections or updates and to confirm this is the authentic version of record