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Information and Patient Support

Asessing Exercise Capacity

Exercise capacity should be measured as part of the initial assessment for entry into a PR program.  To evaluate the effectiveness of the program in relation to exercise capacity, the same assessment should be repeated at the completion of the program (see Patient reassessment).

Three commonly used and validated field tests of exercise capacity for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are:

  1. The Six-Minute Walk Test (6MWT)
  2. The Incremental Shuttle Walk Test (ISWT)
  3. The Endurance Shuttle Walk Test (ESWT)


The 6MWT is the test most widely used in Australia.  For details of tests and technical standards see (Singh , et al., 2014)5 and (Holland, et al., 2014).6


Other Exercise Tests

Sit-to Stand test for lower limb strength:

  • Chair seat to be 48cm.
  • Chair to be placed against wall.
  • Arms to be crossed over chest.
  • Allow 1 x Sit-to-stand for practice.
  • Instructions:“Stand up and sit down as quickly as possible 5 times, keeping your arms folded across your chest.”
  • Stop timing when the participant stands the 5th time.

Perform test once only (no practice test required).