OBJECTIVES: The Health ABC Long Distance Corridor Walk (LDCW) was designed to extend the testing range of self-paced walking tests of fitness for older adults by including a warm-up and timing performance over 400 meters. This study compares performance on the LDCW and 6-minute walk to determine whether the LDCW encourages greater participant effort.
DESIGN: Subjects were administered the LDCW and 6-minute walk during a single visit. Test order alternated between subjects, and a 15-minute rest was given between tests.
SETTING: The Baltimore Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
PARTICIPANTS: Twenty volunteers age 70 to 78.
MEASUREMENTS: The LDCW, consisting of a 2-minute warm-up walk followed by a 400-meter walk and a 6-minute walk test were administered using a 20-meter long course in an unobstructed hallway. Heart rate (HR) and blood pressure (BP) were recorded at rest and before and after all walks.
RESULTS: All 20 subjects walked a faster pace over 400 meters than for 6 minutes, in which the mean distance covered was 402 meters. From paired t-tests, walking speed was faster (mean difference = 0.23 m/sec; P < .001), and ending HR (mean difference = 7.6 bpm; P < .001) and systolic BP (mean difference = 8.3 mmHg; P = .024) were greater for the 400-meter walk than for the 6-minute walk. Results were independent of test order and subject fitness level.
CONCLUSIONS: Providing a warm-up walk and using a target distance instead of time encouraged subjects to work closer to their maximum capacity. This low-cost alternative to treadmill testing can be used in research and clinical settings to assess fitness and help identify early functional decline in older adults.