Should I use METs with clients?

Are you looking to help your clients become generally more active? Talking about METs to them can be really useful. Some people like to understand the science and others may need to have it explained in an easy to understand format, but the concept may reinforce the message of ‘moving more’.

Here is a quick reminder of METs and how they can be used.

What Exactly is a MET?

METs stands for metabolic equivalents and can be used to measure intensity. METs enable us to calculate how much energy is being expended for various tasks. They are widely used in the fitness industry when discussing a range of activities of daily living (ADLs) as well as fitness and sport.

One MET is equal to a person’s resting metabolic rate and is approximately 3.5 millilitres of oxygen per kilogram of bodyweight per minute (ml/kg/min), representing the amount of oxygen used at rest. This could be explained to clients as ‘sitting quietly’.

An activity that uses 3.0 METs such as general house cleaning requires the body to use three times as much oxygen than at rest and three times the energy expenditure.

METs can be used effectively to help clients understand the intensity of activity and how many calories they burn for different activities.

It may show clients the importance of using activities of daily living to stay more active and expend more calories. Even things like standing while on the phone (1.8 METs) rather than sitting (1.3 METs) can make a significant difference over a period of time.

How can you calculate calories based on METs values?

MET values have been calculated by researchers for a range of activities. You can use these MET values to calculate the calories a client would likely burn as a result of the activity/exercise. In order to achieve this, you need to know the client’s weight, the MET level of the exercise/activity and keep the 3.5 millilitres of oxygen per kilogram of bodyweight per minute value to hand.

A calculation would look like this:

Activity in METs x 3.5 x BW(kg) /200 x60 = Kcal

Example of a 70kg woman walking briskly for 1 hour is:

3.3 x 3.5 x 70/200 = 243

To see a full table of activities with associated METs, click here. 

We want to encourage people to remain active throughout the day to continue to expend energy and the more oxygen used during and after exercise, the more calories an individual will burn.

It could be beneficial to explain the concept of METs to your clients to help them become and remain more active throughout the day.

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