Mobility-related function in older adults: assessment with a 6-minute walk test

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1999 Jul;80(7):837-41. doi: 10.1016/s0003-9993(99)90236-8.


Objective: To determine the usefulness of the 6-minute walk test as an integrated measure of mobility in older adults.

Design: Observational study.

Setting: Community centers and retirement homes in the Los Angeles area.

Patients: Eighty-six older adults without significant disease.

Interventions: None.

Main outcome measures: Assessments included the 6-minute walk, chair stands, standing balance, gait speed, body mass index, and self-reported physical functioning and general health perceptions.

Results: One-week test-retest reliability of the 6-minute walk was .95. As hypothesized, the 6-minute walk distance was significantly greater for active than for inactive older adults (p < .0001), moderately correlated with chair stands (r = .67), standing balance (r = .52), and gait speed (r = -.73). It had a low correlation with body mass index (r = -.07). The correlation of the 6-minute walk with self-reported physical functioning was .55, and its correlation with general health perceptions was .39. Self-report and performance measures explained 69% of the variance in 6-minute walk scores.

Conclusions: The 6-minute walk test is reliable and is valid in relation to the performance and self-reported indicators of physical functioning tested in this study. It could serve as a useful integrated measure of mobility.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude to Health
  • Body Mass Index
  • Female
  • Gait
  • Geriatric Assessment*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Postural Balance
  • Regression Analysis
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Walking*