If you've ever wondered if you are meeting your physical activity recommendations, this MET minutes calculator is here to help you. In this article you will find information on what the metabolic equivalent of task (MET) is, how to calculate MET minutes per week, and if your number of active minutes per week is enough to meet your physical activity recommendations. You can also use this tool to make sure that you are meeting your own physical activity goals to keep your weight within a normal range, but don't forget to make sure that your energy intake is appropriate.

MET definition

Have you ever seen the mysterious word MET on a piece of gym equipment, and you wondered what it means? Is this some ancient script of a long dead civilisation? Well, we are here to answer your questions!

MET is short for Metabolic Equivalent of Task. It is a unit that measures how much energy an activity consumes compared to being at rest. Here's some basic information regarding the metabolic equivalent of task:

  1. One MET:
  • represents an activity where 1 kcal per kilogram per hour is burnt.
  • is more or less the energy cost of sitting still.
  • can be defined as an oxygen uptake of 3.5 ml per kilogram per minute.
  • is the rate of the energy expenditure at rest.
  1. Initially, the concept of MET was designed to represent the activity level of those taking a nutritional survey.

  2. The idea of the metabolic equivalent of task is frequently used in guidelines and physical activity recommendations.

  3. If you know the MET value of the physical activity and its duration, you can estimate how many calories were burned.

  4. MET is a ratio of the energy used up during an activity to the rate of the energy expended at rest, so, for example, if you performed a 3 MET activity, your body used three times more energy and oxygen than if it was at rest.

Activities in MET

Researchers have assigned MET values for many different physical activities, from walking at different paces, to much more specific activities such as the sun salutation, maple syruping, or rodeo sports. You can find values for these elsewhere online, as this MET minutes calculator only provides the MET values for common activities. In general, we can differentiate 3 categories of physical activity:

  • light-intensity activities - under 3 MET
  • moderate-intensity activities - from 3 to 6 MET
  • vigorous-intensity activities - over 6 MET.

What is an MET minute?

An MET minute is the amount of energy expended during a minute while at rest. You can, however, burn more than one MET minute in a minute, as your number of MET minutes depends on the MET intensity as well as! Below, you will find the information how to calculate metabolic equivalent minutes - don't worry, it's super easy!

How to calculate MET minutes?

To calculate the amount of metabolic equivalent minutes, you need just two pieces of information:

  1. The MET value of an activity
  2. The duration of the activity (in minutes).

Once you know these two values, just multiply them. For example:

If you performed a 3 MET activity (e.g., walking at a pace 3 miles per hour) for 30 minutes, you achieve 90 MET minutes.

If your friend sits still (1 MET) for 90 minutes, they will also achieve 90 MET minutes, but over a longer period of time.

MET minutes per week

The amount of MET minutes per week tells you how much energy you have expended while performing various activities throughout the whole week. Let's assume that last week you:

  • ran twice, for 45 minutes each,
  • walked vigorously to work every single day (30 minutes there and back)
  • had an aerobic class for 1 hour on Tuesday.

2 * 9.8 MET * 45 min. = 882 MET minutes

5 * 3.8 MET * 30 min. = 570 MET minutes

1 * 6.83 MET * 60 min. = 409.8 MET minutes

882 + 570 + 409.8 = 1861.8 MET minutes per week

Physical activity recommendations

Now you know the definition of a metabolic equivalent, what MET minutes are and how to calculate them. But why do we need all of that? The answer is simple. It's a way of measuring your level of physical activity. As you probably suspected, the more metabolic equivalent minutes you achieve, the better. But how many MET minutes is enough? According to WHO, the physical activity recommendations are as follows:

  • at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity

OR

  • at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity

OR

  • an equivalent combination of both.

Moreover, for additional health benefits, adults should increase their moderate-intensity physical activity to 300 minutes per week or an equivalent (ref. WHO website). How does this translate to MET minutes? As a moderate-intensity activity is at least 3 MET, and vigorous-intensity is at least 6 MET, this means that you need at least 450 MET minutes per week to meet these recommendations. Moreover, if we take into account the second recommendation to achieve extra health benefits, you should achieve at least 900 MET minutes per week.

In other words, anything between 450 to 900 MET minutes is "enough", but over 900 MET minutes will be the most beneficial to your health.

Please note that only activities over 3 MET can be considered when counting active minutes per week. This is why this calculator only has moderate and vigorous-intensity activities built-in.

Why is physical activity so important?

Being physically active has many advantages, including significant benefits to your health. Meeting your physical activity recommendations will allow you to:

  • increase your fitness level
  • improve your bone health
  • reduce the risk of suffering from many different conditions, such as hypertension, coronary heart disease,diabetes and even cancer
  • reduce the risk of falls
  • make sure that you keep healthy weight
  • improve your mood

Unfortunately, 1 in 4 adults worldwide are not active enough. So don't hesitate to use our MET minutes calculator to check if your number of active minutes per week is sufficient, or you need to add some extra activities to your weekly schedule. And remember, always make sure that you drink enough fluids when performing physical activities!

Joanna Michałowska, PhD candidate