Objective: To evaluate the 6-minute walking distance (6MWD) for healthy Caucasian children and adolescents of a population-based sample from the age of 3 to 18 years.
Study design: Two hundred and eighty boys and 248 girls completed a modified test, using a measuring wheel as incentive device.
Results: Median 6MWD increased from the age of 3 to 11 years in boys and girls alike and increased further with increasing age in boys (from 667.3 m to 727.6 m), whereas it essentially plateaued in girls (655.8 m to 660.9 m). After adjusting for age, height (P = .001 in boys and P < .001 in girls) remained independently correlated with the 6MWD. In the best fitting and most efficient linear and quadratic regression models, the variables age and height explained about 49% of the variability of the 6MWD in boys and 50% in girls.
Conclusion: This modified 6-minute walk test (6MWT) proved to be safe, easy to perform, and highly acceptable to children. It provides a simple and inexpensive means to measure functional exercise capacity in children, even of young age, and might be of value when conducting comparable studies.