The 6-min walk test (6MWT) assesses functional capacity and has been used as outcome measure in therapeutic studies in childhood neuromuscular disorders. The objectives were to evaluate test-retest reliability of the 6MWT and to generate normative data for healthy boys aged 5-12 years. Ninety boys (mean age 8 years 10 months) were recruited over four age subcategories (5-6, 7-8, 9-10, 11-12 years). Mean 6MWT distance and velocity (±standard deviation) for the total group were 555.5±93 m and 92.6±16.6 m/min. The 6MWT distance increased significantly with age. Test-retest reliability (mean interval 12 days) was very high for the total group (ICC>0.95) and for all age subcategories (ICC>0.80) a moderately high reliability (ICC>0.75) was found from 3 min onwards for each age subcategory. There was a mean difference of 5.2 m between test and retest without systematic bias. The standard error of measurement and smallest detectable difference were 20.7 and 57.4 m, respectively. These findings demonstrate the reliability of the 6MWT in young children, underscore its evolution with age, and indicate that a shorter version of the test is also reliable.
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