6 Minute Walk Test

What is a 6 minute walk test?

A “6 minute walk” test is a simple procedure performed to give the doctor accurate information about your blood oxygen levels whilst you exercise.

Why do I need to have this test?

Your doctor has asked that you have this test to determine whether you need additional oxygen when you are exercising. In some situations, the 6 minute walk test provides better information of a patient’s ability to perform daily activities.

What happens during the test?

Before the test begins the Physiologist will explain the test to you in detail and will answer any questions that you have.

A probe will be put on your finger. This will provide us with information about your blood oxygen levels. You will then be asked to walk for 6 minutes along a flat corridor.

The test will take approximately half an hour to complete. The length of the test may vary slightly depending on your oxygen levels during the test.

Important information

  • Please do not wear nail varnish to your appointment.
  • Please bring any walking aids (stick etc) that you regularly use when walking and any oxygen prescribed to you for use whilst walking outside the home.

Thank you for your co-operation. This will assist us in obtaining accurate information and enable us to provide you with the most appropriate treatment.

Frequently asked questions

Will I experience any discomfort or side effects?

There are no known side effects associated with this test.

Is there a different test I could have?

There is no other test that would give us this information about your exercise tolerance and limitations.

When will I be told the results of my test?

You are usually told your results at your next clinic appointment, or a letter may be sent to your GP or the doctor who referred you for the test.

What should I wear when I attend for my test?

You should wear normal comfortable clothing and flat shoes suitable for walking in.


American Thoracic Society (2002) ATS Statement: Guidelines for the Six-Minute Walk Test American Journal of Respiratory Critical Care Medicine.

NHS Constitution. Information on your rights and responsibilities. Available at www.nhs.uk/aboutnhs/constitution

If you or the individual you are caring for need support reading this leaflet please ask a member of staff for advice.

How to contact us:

Respiratory Physiology
Gate 12
Level 1
Brunel building
Southmead Hospital
BS10 5NB

0117 414 5400 - Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm



© North Bristol NHS Trust. This edition published April 2021. Review due April 2023. NBT002285

6 Minute Walk Test