[Effect of a surgical mask on six minute walking distance]

Rev Mal Respir. 2018 Mar;35(3):264-268. doi: 10.1016/j.rmr.2017.01.010. Epub 2018 Feb 1.
[Article in French]


Introduction: Six minutes walking test (6MWT) is regularly used in pulmonology. To minimize the risk of cross-infection, some patients must wear surgical mask at rest and sometimes during exercise.

Aim of the study: To evaluate the effect of wearing a surgical mask during 6MWT in healthy subjects.

Material and method: It is a prospective study on 44 healthy subjects. After a first 6MWT for training, they performed randomly two 6MWT: with or without a surgical mask. Distance and dyspnea, heart rate and saturation variations were recorded.

Results: Distance was not modified by the mask (P=0.99). Dyspnea variation was significantly higher with surgical mask (+5.6 vs. +4.6; P<0.001) and the difference was clinically relevant. No difference was found for the variation of other parameters.

Conclusion: Wearing a surgical mask modifies significantly and clinically dyspnea without influencing walked distance.

Keywords: Dyspnoea; Dyspnée; Masque de soins; Surgical mask; Test de marche; Walking test.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Dyspnea / epidemiology
  • Dyspnea / etiology*
  • Dyspnea / physiopathology
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Masks / adverse effects*
  • Respiration
  • Surgical Attire / adverse effects*
  • Walking / physiology*
  • Young Adult