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MET - The standard metabolic equivalent

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Updated November 29, 2007

Definition: MET or the standard metabolic equivalent is a unit used to estimate the amount of oxygen used by the body during physical activity.

1 MET = the energy (oxygen) used by the body at rest, while sitting quietly or reading a book, for example. The harder your body works during the activity, the more oxygen is consumed and the higher the MET level.

  • Activity that burns 3 to 6 METs is considered moderate-intensity physical activity.
  • Activity that burns > 6 METs is considered vigorous-intensity physical activity.

Moderate-intensity physical activity refers to a level of effort that:

  • Causes an increase in breathing and/or heart rate
  • Results in three to six metabolic equivalents (METs) of effort
  • Burns 3.5 to 7 Calories per minute (kcal/min)
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