What is the Metabolic Equivalent of Task (MET)?

Metabolic Equivalent of Task


The metabolic equivalent of task (MET) is a unit used to quantify the energy expenditure of different activities. 1 MET equals the energy used at rest.


  • MET values represent multiples of resting metabolic rate. For example, moderate cycling is 5 METs so it burns 5 times the calories of resting.
  • Vigorous exercise is 6+ METs, moderate is 3-6 METs, and light activity 1.1-2.9 METs according to standards.
  • By assigning MET values, you can compare the estimated caloric expenditure of various activities for a given person’s resting metabolism.
  • Walking briskly is 3-3.5 METs while sprint intervals are estimated over 10 METs depending on effort.


  • A 175 lb person burns 17.5 calories per minute sitting at rest (1 MET) versus 87.5 calories doing 6 MET cycling.
  • Running at 8 METs would burn about 140 calories every 10 minutes for this individual.

Related Terms

  • Calorie burn, resting metabolic rate, EPOC, energy expenditure

Common Questions

  • Where do MET values come from? Published tables based on oxygen consumption required for activities.
  • Why are METs useful? To compare calorie burn estimates across different durations and types of activities.

Do Not Confuse With

  • VO2 max – Maximal oxygen uptake during intense exercise. Related idea but different units.
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