Tuesday, March 15, 2011

METs - Moving Is the Name of the Game

One MET is another name for 'metabolic equivalent', which represents an average person’s resting metabolism or oxygen uptake. More specifically, a single MET is defined as the amount of oxygen a person consumes (or the energy expended) per unit of body weight during 1 minute of rest. It's equal to about 3.5 milliliters (ml) of oxygen consumption per kilogram (kg) of body weight per minute, or 1 kilocalorie (kcal) per kg of body weight per hour.

In other words, how much energy is being expending doing a particular task. The more energy that's required to accomplish a task, the higher the MET rating. The name of the game is to engage in as many high MET tasks daily as possible. As you go through your daily life, most tasks require an energy expenditure that is less than three times resting level, or three METs. METs offer a quick screening measure in evaluating your cardiovascular fitness: a way for you to keep tabs on how much intensity you’re bringing to your workout.

If you don't have access to cardio equipment with a METs calculator, you can estimate your intensity by the activity. For example, walking a 20-minute mile is equivalent to 3.5 METs; walking a 12-minute mile is 8 METs.

What’s the right METs value for you? An easy calculation of target METs is the same regardless of weight, but is adjusted for age.

Women: 14.7 – (0.13 x age in years)
Men: 14.7 – (0.11 x age in years)

  • 62-year-old woman:
    14.7 – 8.06 = 6.64 target METs
  • 42-year-old woman:
    14.7 – 5.46 = 9.24 target METs
  • 22-year-old woman:
    14.7 – 2.86 = 11.84 target METs

When exercising, achieving your METs or higher indicates very good to excellent cardiovascular fitness; achieving less is indicative of diminished fitness.

You can boost your fitness level no matter where you are today by consistently exercising and creating challenges for your body by speeding your heart rate and breathing. As you increase your fitness level, you'll be able to maintain higher MET readings. For example, if during your initial weeks of training you exercise at an output of 4 METs and felt quite winded, after 6-weeks you’ll find that you'll have a more manageable output since your fitness level has increased. It'll be time to train at a higher MET level to continue improving/progressing and to be working hard enough to feel winded.

Remember, the higher the MET rating of a particular activity the less time spent doing that activity is to be expected. High or vigorous intensity MET activities require more energy so the duration will decrease.

The reason working out is so popular these days is because we don’t do enough moderate and vigorous MET rated activities like we did back in the day when we were kids. Nowadays, everything seems to revolve around a computer, desk, email, cell phones, television and commute time. And, if you think a lack of moderate and vigorous rated MET activities is just a matter of losing weight…think again.

In a study conducted at the University of South Carolina, researchers measured MET related movement and activities in men and found that spending more than 23 hours a week in a sitting position increased their chances of sudden death as a result of heart disease by 60%. Ladies, this information applies to you too.

Think about how many hours you spend each day sitting. Commuting, at work in front of your computer, watching television, eating at a table, etc. The hours accumulate very quickly.

The less you move, the more health issues that begin to arise…

  • The more inflexible you become
  • The weaker your muscles get
  • The easier it is to gain weight
  • The harder it is to lose weight
  • The more you struggle with balance, coordination & flexibility
  • The greater the chances of developing a chronic disease
  • The more likely you are to develop and maintain chronic inflammation which can and does lead to arthritis
  • The greater your frustration and subsequent stress levels

.....the list goes on!

Those realities are every reason to get your body moving as much as possible by making it a priority!

When my clients complain about their weight gain or being stuck in a weight loss plateau, maybe their energy levels are less than satisfactory or their mood is throwing them into self-defeating behavior, I tell them this -


That's right.....MOVE!

That doesn’t mean workout more. It simply means getting up off your butt, keep up with your workouts and just move more in general.

Have fun! Go outside & play! Afterall, our bodies were designed for movement - so go do just that.

Get strong, stay strong, MOVE YOUR BODY and CRANK UP THOSE METs!


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