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Comparing Energy Expenditure of Physical Activities

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What is a MET?

A MET is the metabolic equivalent – essentially the ratio of work metabolic rate to the resting metabolic rate. One MET is defined as 1 kcal per kilogram of body weight per hour and is roughly equivalent to resting, or an oxygen uptake defined as 3.5 ml/kg/min (this is used within the energy expenditure calculation.)

As an example, let’s say that one of the previous mentioned rugby players weighed 85 kg. What would his energy expenditure be in a match?

Rugby Union, team, competitive is 8.3 MET.

  • Energy Expenditure = (MET x Body Weight x oxygen uptake for 1 MET) / 200
  • Energy Expenditure = (8.3 x 85 x 3.5) / 200
  • Energy Expenditure = 12.35
  • Energy Expenditure = 12.35 x 80 (minutes per game)
  • Energy Expenditure = 987.7 kcal

Please bare in mind that this is only a guide and is unable to take in to account: gender, age, stature, movement efficiency, fitness levels, geography or environmental conditions, but MET’s do give you a pretty good idea that you can quickly estimate energy expenditures for a given activity.

Physical activity comparison using METs Have a look at just a few physical activities and compare the estimate energy expenditures. 

Physical Activity

MET

Time in activity (minutes)

Energy Expenditure (kcal)

Sitting

1.3

60

109

Standing

1.8

60

151

Dusting around the house

2.3

30

97

Pleasure Walking

3

60

153

Running (12min/mile)

8.3

60

697

Golf

4.8

60

361

Squash

12

45

756

(Weight = 80 kg)

There are obvious limitations with using MET’s, and hence why it shouldn’t be used exclusively to determine energy expenditure, but it does give you a good idea on how activities compare. Have a look for yourself and get counting those METS, https://sites.google.com/site/compendiumofphysicalactivities/

Related article: What's in your tank? Feel the burn: energy expenditure across sports
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