When you exercise, you generate heat. If the exercise is vigorous or sustained, you produce so much heat that you become hot and sweaty. How many calories did you burn? Check your METS.
What is a MET?
MET stands for Metabolic Equivalent Task. One MET is equal to the rate you burn calories while you are sitting. Obviously, as you begin to move or exercise, you will burn more calories and this will increase your METS. Some of you may have noticed that the exercise equipment you currently use measures METS. If the treadmill, for example, shows five METS, then that means that you are burning calories at a rate five times faster than if you were sitting.
However, the actual number of calories a person burns varies based on age, weight and fitness level. As an example, let’s say you meet a group of women at the mall every morning for a one mile walk. Every one of the women walks the full distance, but some walk faster than the others. Those that can walk faster will acquire more METS.
METS and Disease Risk
To get enough exercise to reduce your risk for disease, you need to acquire 15-20 MET/hours per week. How can you do that? We’ll use walking as an example.
“Lady A” walks two miles every day in 30 minutes (15 minutes/mile). She will accrue 2 METS, because a person who can walk a 15 minute mile (which is pretty fast walking), gets 1 MET for every 15 minutes walked. Assuming she walks every day of the week, “Lady A” would accumulate 14 METS (2 METS x 7 days = 14 METS). However, since 15-20 is the goal, she should walk a little longer every day (say 45 minutes instead of 30), or walk her two miles at an even faster pace.
There are charts available to help you determine how many METS you accrue per activity, but remember they are predicated on speed and intensity of the workout.
Want to learn more?
For more information on METS, refer to the following sources. Dr. Susan Love has an excellent fact sheet on the relationship between METS and breast cancer.
As well, The Cooper Institute and Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas website provides healthy information in an easy-to-read format.
Written by: Donna Green, Family & Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, Erie Basin EERA, email@example.com
Reviewed by: Beth Stefura, Family & Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, firstname.lastname@example.org