Objective: The six-minute walk test (6MWT) is an established measure of exercise capacity in adults and children with chronic cardiac or respiratory disease. Despite its widespread use there are no normal values for healthy children less than 12 years of age. We aimed to provide normal values for children between 4 and 11 years.
Design and Setting: Healthy children recruited prospectively from two UK primary schools and amongst children visiting Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Participants: 328 children (54% male) aged 4 to 11 years.
Main outcome measures: The distance walked in six minutes, oxygen saturation and heart rate during the six minutes and during a three minute recovery period were determined.
Results: Mean oxygen saturation at baseline and during the 6MWT was 97-99%. Heart rate increased from 102±19 bpm at baseline to a maximum of 136±12 bpm. Overall, the mean distance walked in 6 minutes was 470±59 meters. Distance walked correlated with age (r=0.64, p<0.0001), weight (r=0.51, p<0.0001) and height (r=0.65, p<0.0001) with no significant difference between boys and girls. The distance walked increased significantly year on year from 4 to 7 years (4yrs 383±41m; 5yrs 420±39m, 6yrs 463±40m; 7yrs 488±35m; p<0.05 between each); further modest increases were observed beyond 7 years of age.
Conclusions: - Performing a six-minute walk test is feasible and practical in young children. This study provides data on normal children against which the performance of sick children and the response to therapeutic intervention can be judged.
- exercise testing
- six-minute walk test
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