METHODS: After institutional research board approval (Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry Number: 12615000964516), 300 healthy term nulliparous pregnant women performed the 6MWT at 3 tertiary referral obstetric hospitals using a standardized protocol. Each woman underwent two 6MWT with maximum 15-minute recovery period after each test. Hemodynamic variables were measured at rest and after exercise. Participants were asked 4 questions, 2 regarding expectation and 2 regarding actual experience, using the Rating of Perceived Exertion scale and Modified Borg Dyspnea scale.
RESULTS: Participant characteristics and resting variables were mean (standard deviation [SD]); age, 31 years (4.2 years); body mass index, 27 kg/m2 (2.9 kg/m2); gestational age, 37 weeks (1.3 weeks); HR, 85 bpm (10.8 bpm) with 95% reference interval 64–106 bpm; systolic blood pressure, 112 mm Hg (10.2 mm Hg); diastolic blood pressure, 72 mm Hg (8.6 mm Hg); oxygen saturation, 98% (0.9%); and respiratory rate, 18 breaths/min (5.7 breaths/min). The mean (SD) average distance walked was 488 m (94.9 m) with a speed of 3.0 mph (0.64 mph) with a 95% reference interval of 302–674 m. The mean (SD) HR increase with exercise was 12 bpm (11.0 bpm) with a median [quartile] recovery time of 5.0 minutes [1–8 minutes]. A lower resting HR was associated with increased distance walked (r = −0.207; 95% confidence interval, −0.313 to −0.096; P < .001). A greater HR change with exercise was associated with increased recovery time from exercise (r = 0.736; 95% confidence interval, 0.697–0.784; P < .001). Sixty-three percent and 83% of participants, respectively, expected to be more exerted and breathless than they actually were with exercise.
CONCLUSIONS: The 6MWT is feasible and applicable in term pregnant women. The reference intervals for resting HR and distance walked in the 6MWT have been generated. HR increases by approximately 12 bpm with submaximal exercise, and half of the women recovered within 5 minutes of submaximal exercise. Women expected to be more exerted and breathless than they actually were with exercise.