What is a MET?

Q:  While working out on your favorite cardio machine, you notice the screen displays a number for “METs”.  What is a MET and how does it relate to your exercise?”

A: A MET, or metabolic equivalent, is a tool used to define the intensity of any physical activity. 3 METS or less is categorized as light intensity.  Light activities can include making the bed, sitting at a desk, or walking less than 3 mph.  Moderate intensity ranges from 3-6 METS.  Washing the car, walking 3-4 mph, or ballroom dancing can all be considered as moderate activities.  Vigorous intensity is anything above 6 METS.  These activites would be very brisk walking or jogging, playing a basketball game, or swimming laps.  Because heart rate can vary due to a person’s age and/or physical condition, METS are a more convenient way to monitor exercise intensity.  Next time you are exercising on a piece of cardio equipment, check your METS to see that you are at least in the moderate or vigorous categories to get the most benefit from your workout!

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