Estimated Metabolic Equivalents

The metabolic equivalent (MET) is widely used in cardiovascular population exercise guidelines as a means of quantifying the energy demands of physical activity. It relates the rate of the body's oxygen uptake (VO2) for a given activity as a multiple of an individual's resting VO2. At rest an individual's basal VO2 is on average 3.5 millilitres of oxygen per minute for every kilogram of body mass (ml.kg-1.min-1).

One MET has therefore been set to equal a VO2 of 3.5mLkg-1.min-1. By measuring the VO2 of an activity an MET value can then be assigned to it. For example, if a person walks at ~5kph (3.0 mph = 11.6ml.kg_1.min_1) on the flat, the oxygen cost will be:

11.6ml.kg-1.min-1

If 1 MET equals a VO2 of 3.5ml.kg-1.min-1 then a VO2 of 11.6ml.kg-1.min-1 = 3.3 METs

The full calculation for this can be found in the ACSM (2000) guidelines for exercise testing and prescription.

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