Aims: This study's purpose was to objectively measure the intensity, expressed as metabolic equivalents (METs), of free-living physical activities (PAs) performed by New Zealanders.
Methods: A sample of 186 European/Other (n=60), Maori (n=61), and Pacific (n=65) males and females (mean age 48.6 plus or minus 16.4 yrs) underwent 3 days of minute-by-minute heart rate monitoring (HRM) with individual calibration on a cycle ergometer. Mean METs were derived from average heart rate readings and compared to published equivalents from the United States (US) Compendium of Physical Activities.
Results: Although New Zealand-derived METs were slightly higher, comparison to the US instrument showed strong correlations (R2=0.62). Overall intensities for Maori kapahaka PAs ranged from 4.3 to 7.1 METs, and were generally classified as vigorous- and moderate-intensity for males and females, respectively. In addition to 12 New Zealand Maori and Pacific activities, 5 PAs captured during HRM are not found in the US Compendium, and New Zealand-derived METs for 9 PAs were classified differently from the US instrument.
Conclusions: Availability of New Zealand-specific MET intensities increases the precision of estimating energy expenditure and PA levels when direct measures are not possible. PA surveillance in New Zealand is further enhanced by the ability to substitute culturally-specific examples of intensity when necessary.