Unifying Concepts

Indications for the Six-Minute Walk Test (6MWT)

The American Thoracic Society Pulmonary Function Standards Committee developed guidelines for the 6MWT in clinical settings. The 6MWT was chosen because it is easier to administer, better tolerated, and better reflects activities of daily living than other walk tests.

Indications for the Six-Minute Walk Test (6MWT)
Before-and-After Treatment Comparisons

  • Lung transplantation or lung resection
  • Lung volume reduction surgery
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation
  • Drug therapy for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Heart failure

To Measure Functional Status

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Heart failure
  • Peripheral vascular disease
  • In elderly patients

To Predict Hospitalization and Death

  • From heart failure,
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or
  • pulmonary hypertension


  1. ATS Committee on Proficiency Standards for Clinical Pulmonary Function Laboratories. ATS statement: guidelines for the six-minute walk test. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2002 Jul 1;166(1):111-7. [Medline]
  2. Enright PL. The six-minute walk test. Respir Care. 2003 Aug;48(8):783-5. [Medline]

Created: Jan 27, 2011.

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