Two-Minute Step Test of Exercise Capacity: Systematic Review

The 2-minute step test (TMST) is one of many alternatives for measuring exercise capacity. First introduced in 1999 as part of the Senior Fitness Test, the TMST has the advantage of requiring limited space, only a few minutes’ time, and no expensive equipment. These advantages notwithstanding, the test must be clinimetrically sound if it is to be recommended. We sought therefore to summarize the literature addressing TMST performance and measurement properties.

Relevant literature was identified by searches of 3 electronic databases (PubMed, Scopus, and Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health) and hand searches. Inclusion of an article required that it described use of the TMST of Rikli and Jones and that it focused on adults. Articles published in a language other than English were excluded. Studies were abstracted for information on participants, TMST description, and findings.

Thirty articles were deemed appropriate based on inclusion and exclusion criteria. The participants in the studies included community-dwelling healthy older adults and adults with assorted pathologies. Studies described varied methods of conducting the TMST. Among tests in which steps for one side were counted over a full 2 minutes, the mean number of steps among populations ranged from 29.1 for patients with chronic stroke to 110.8 for older osteoporotic women. Numerous reviewed studies provide support for the validity of the TMST. Only one study addressed reliability and none focused on responsiveness. Normative data have been proffered.

The TMST has been widely used since first introduced, albeit not always as originally described. There is considerable evidence for the validity of the test, but its reliability and responsiveness are not yet firmly established.

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