What is a MET?

All of the data on the cardio machines can be confusing.  Calories, strides, distance, even heart rate are self explanatory.  Watts measure power.  This readout will tell you how much power you are generating.  Remember back to math class: Power = Force times Distance divided by Time.  Is this statistic useful to you?  Not really unless you are a competitive athlete!

But a statistic you should pay attention to is the MET, or metabolic equivalent.  METs indicate the amount of oxygen the body consumes during activity.  One MET is equivalent to the oxygen the body uses at rest. Being able to attain a high degree of oxygen use during exercise, and therefore have a high MET level, is an indicator of physical fitness.

But how does the machine know how much oxygen you are consuming?  It doesn’t!  METs as well as calorie measurements, are based on generalized formulas.  These measurements have been established through years of clinical research are generally accurate for the average person.

Moderate walking burns 3 to 6 METs per minute. Studies done by Cardiologist Martha Gulati and a team of researchers at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center state that a fit 40-year-old woman should be able to reach 9.5 METs while exercising, while an 80-year-old woman should be able to hit 5.  How are you doing?


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