Six Minute Walk Test

A six minute walk test measures how far you can walk on a flat surface for exactly six minutes.

What is a six minute walk test?
Why do I need a six minute walk test?
What are the risks of having a six minute walk test?
How do I prepare for a six minute walk test?
What happens during a six minute walk test?
What happens after a six minute walk test?

What is a six minute walk test?

A six minute walk test measures how far you can walk on a flat surface for exactly six minutes.

Why do I need a six minute walk test?

A six minute walk test can help your doctor to find out:

  • How your heart and lungs respond to exercise
  • Your general fitness
  • If you’re coping with your daily activities

Your doctor can use your test results to:

  • Work out how well you are
  • Adjust your current treatment
  • Plan a healthy exercise program for you

What are the risks of having a six minute walk test?

Risks are very rare, and a nurse or physiotherapist will be supervising you during your test. If you’re worried about taking this test, discuss your concerns with your doctors. They may be able to provide a different type of test for you.

How do I prepare for a six minute walk test?

In order to prepare for your six minute walk test, you’ll need to:

  • Dress in comfortable clothes
  • Wear comfortable shoes - ideally runners or shoes meant for walking
  • Use a cane or walker if you normally need them
  • Eat a light meal before early morning or afternoon tests
  • Avoid strenuous exercise 2 hours before your test

What happens during a six minute walk test?

The six minute walk test is done inside a room at your doctor’s offices or hospital, along a marked walkway.

During your test:

  • Your goal is to walk as far as you can -  in six minutes
  • If you need to stop at any time, you can rest against the wall - and start walking again as soon as you’re ready
  • Your oxygen levels will be monitored -  with a small probe that’s attached to your finger
  • A nurse or physiotherapist will record your time -  and how far you walk

The test may be stopped if:

  • You ask to stop for any reason - you feel exhausted or are in pain
  • The nurse or physiotherapist is concerned - if you show weakness, or severe shortness of breath

What happens after a six minute walk test?

When your test is finished, the nurse or physiotherapist will talk to you about your results. Your doctor will also be given a copy of your results and will schedule a follow-up appointment with you to discuss your ongoing care.

 

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