Effect of walkway length and turning direction on the distance covered in the 6-minute walk test among adults over 50 years of age: a cross-sectional study

Physiotherapy. 2013 Mar;99(1):63-70. doi: 10.1016/j.physio.2011.11.005. Epub 2012 Apr 11.


Objective: To examine the effect of walkway length and turning direction on the distance covered in the 6-minute walk test (6MWT) in healthy adults aged ≥50 years.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Setting: University-based rehabilitation centre.

Participants: Twenty-five healthy adults aged ≥50 years.

Outcome measures: Distance covered in the 6MWT (6MWD) was recorded in metres. Number of turns during the test using walkways of various lengths (10, 20 and 30m) and different turning directions (turning towards dorminant and non-dorminant side), rate of perceived exertion and heart rate were recorded before and after the test.

Results: The 6MWD and the number of turns differed significantly with walkway length (P<0.05). The greatest 6MWD and the lowest number of turns were recorded in the 30-m walkway. Significant increases in heart rate and rate of perceived exertion (P<0.05) were found between the pre-test and post-test for all testing conditions. No significant difference was found between the two turning directions for any distance covered.

Conclusion: The length of the walkway had a significant effect on the 6MWD, but the turning direction did not. This suggests that subjects can turn in either direction without significantly affecting the results when using a standard walkway in the 6MWT.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise Test / methods*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Physical Exertion / physiology
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Walking / physiology*