Background: The 6-minute walk test (6MWT) is commonly used to test the functional capacity of individuals. However, in many practice settings, the long corridor needed to administer the test may not be available. Review of current literature revealed limited evidence regarding the use of a treadmill as an alternate method of performing a 6MWT.
Purpose: This study compared the distance walked and the heart rate (HR) response during a 6MWT on level ground (LG) and on a treadmill.
Methods: A total of 35 healthy adults were in 1 of 3 age groups (45–54, 55–64, and 65–75 years old). Each participant performed level ground (LG) and Treadmill (TM) 6MWT on consecutive test days. Participants completed each test condition twice on the same day. Data from the second trial were used for the analysis. A mixed- model, multivariate analysis of variance was used with 2 factors: age group and test condition. Dependent variables included distance walked and HR response as a proportion of HR reserve.
Results: There were no significant differences among the 3 age groups in the distance walked or the HR response during the 6MWT (P = .40, .17, .80) or between the test conditions (TM and LG) (P = .87 and .06).
Conclusion: Among healthy adults from middle to old age, a TM 6MWT is an appropriate test of functional and aerobic capacity as determined by measurement of the distance walked and HR response.