Your Apple Watch helps collect many important biometrics such as resting heart rate, heart rate variability (HRV), and VO2 max (maximal oxygen uptake) that provide deeper insights into your overall fitness and health.
But the automatically calculated 6MWT score (six-minute walking test score) is a great health indicator that Apple Watch users often overlook.
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Apart from the six-minute walking test score, Apple is also incorporating a new Cardio fitness score, which helps you quickly determine your overall cardio fitness.
This is expected to be incorporated in the next mini watchOS release.
What is the Six-minute Walking test?
The six-minute walking test is a standardized, self-paced assessment tool commonly used to assess functional ability.
It is also a useful tool in the management of heart failure patients.
According to studies, reduced functional ability and exercise tolerance in patients with heart failure (HF) are associated with poor quality of life and a worse prognosis.
The 6-minute walking test (6MWT) is a widely available and well-tolerated test for assessing the functional capacity of patients with HF.
Although the cardiopulmonary exercise test (a maximal exercise test) remains the gold standard for evaluating exercise capacity in patients with HF, the 6MWT (submaximal exercise test) may provide reliable information about the patient’s daily activity.
Simply put, the Six-minute walking test score measures the distance covered in six minutes by a user.
Apple Watch and 6MWT Score
With the introduction of watchOS 7, Apple incorporated mobility metrics into its health and wellness offerings.
The 6MWT is one of the available metrics if your Apple Watch is running the latest operating system.
Apple automatically calculates your 6MWT score averages over a period of time. This score is accessible to you via the Health app.
How to check your 6MWT score on Apple Health
Launch the Health app on your iPhone and follow the steps below to check out your 6MWT score.
- Tap on the Browse tab at the bottom of the screen
- Select Respiratory from the listed health categories
- Your six-minute Walk score is visible at the top of the screen. Tap on it to see your weekly, monthly and yearly averages and details by day.
By default, the health app shows the 6MWT score corresponding to past seven days.
It shows you how many meters you can walk on a flat ground over six minutes.
The more fit you are, the higher number.
According to Apple, this prediction is considered a measure of your exercise capacity. Longer distances are associated with healthier cardiac, respiratory, circulatory and neuromuscular function.
How is the 6MWD generally calculated?
There are standard equations that help with calculating the 6MWT score. Here is one that uses your body mass index and age.
An equation to calculate 6MWT score using body mass index (BMI) is as follows
6 MWD = 1140 m – (5.61 × BMI) – (6.94 × age)
and for women,
6 MWD = 1017 m – (6.24 × BMI) – (5.83 × age)
You can use this to validate the Apple Watch scores and should find that you are within 95
% of the reported scores.
Since 6MWD is a functional test, the score depends on the patient’s condition and can vary greatly.
Tip for Senior Apple Watch Users
This is a great metric also for our aging family members.
If you recently bought an Apple Watch for a senior family member, you should definitely show them how to track the six-minute walk score and have them review it with their physicians regularly.
According to Cardiology Advisor,
“In a systematic review of the use of the 6 MWT in heart failure trials, a 6 MWD <300 m does predict poorer outcome in stable heart failure patients.
Severe impairment in 6 MWD scores is also seen in ( Pulmonary arterial hypertension patients) PAH. There is an inverse relationship between WHO/NYHA clinical status and 6 MWD in PAH.
Six MWD <300 m is an adverse prognostic indicator in PAH. Conversely, 6 MWD >400 m is considered a favorable prognostic indicator.”
What is a good 6MWD Score?
The minimum 6MWD score found from a study of more than 600 adults was about 418.
As you exercise more and feel better, this score will automatically increase.
Having said that, if you notice your 6MWD score to be within 300 – 400 or less, you should definitely consult your doctor.
If you are in the normal range and would like to systematically improve your 6MWD score, you may want to stay tuned for the new Apple Fitness+ offering that is expected to be released shortly!