We measured the distance 112 patients walked in 6 min, as well as their peak oxygen consumption pedalling a bicycle, week before scheduled resection of benign or malignant colorectal disease. The distance walked correlated with peak oxygen consumption, the former ‘accounting’ for about half the variation in the latter, r2 0.52 (95% CI 0.38–0.64), p < 0.0001. In the first postoperative month, 42/112 patients experienced a complication. In multivariate analysis, complications were less likely with longer walking distances and increasing age: the odds ratio (95% CI) reduced to 0.995 (0.990–0.999) for each metre distance, and to 0.96 (0.93–0.99) with each year of age, p = 0.025 and p = 0.018, respectively. The distance walked in 6 min before surgery can provide prognostic information when cardiopulmonary exercise testing is unavailable.
This article is accompanied by an Editorial by Carlisle, pp 799–803 of this issue.