Walking tests during the exercise training: specific use for the cardiac rehabilitation

Ann Phys Rehabil Med. 2013 Oct;56(7-8):561-75. doi: 10.1016/j.rehab.2013.09.003. Epub 2013 Sep 27.


Walk tests, principally the six-minute walk test (6mWT), constitute a safe, useful submaximal tool for exercise tolerance testing in cardiac rehabilitation (CR). The 6mWT result reflects functional status, walking autonomy and efficacy of CR on walking endurance, which is more pronounced in patients with low functional capacity (heart failure - cardiac surgery). The 6mWT result is a strong predictor of mortality. However, clinically significant changes and reliability are still subject to debate - probably because of the ambiguity in terms of the target speed (either comfortable or brisk walking). Of the other time-based walk tests, the 2-minute-walk test is the only one applicable during CR, reserved for patients with severe disabilities by its psychometric properties. Fixed-distance tests (principally the 200m fast walk test) and incremental shuttle walking, tests explore higher levels of effort and may represent a safe and inexpensive alternative to laboratory-based tests during CR. These walking tests may be useful for personalizing prescription of training programs. However, the minimum clinically significant difference has not yet been determined. Lastly, walking tests appear to be potential useful tools in promoting physical activity and behavioural changes at home. Thus, validation of other walk tests with better psychometric properties will be necessary.

Keywords: Activité physique; Cardiac rehabilitation; Cardiovascular diseases; Functional test; Maladies cardiovasculaires; Physical activity; Réadaptation cardiovasculaire; Tests de marche; Tests fonctionnels; Walking test.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Exercise Test*
  • Heart Diseases / rehabilitation*
  • Heart Diseases / surgery
  • Humans
  • Psychometrics
  • Walking*