Metabolic equivalents (METS) in exercise testing, exercise prescription, and evaluation of functional capacity

Clin Cardiol. 1990 Aug;13(8):555-65. doi: 10.1002/clc.4960130809.


One metabolic equivalent (MET) is defined as the amount of oxygen consumed while sitting at rest and is equal to 3.5 ml O2 per kg body weight x min. The MET concept represents a simple, practical, and easily understood procedure for expressing the energy cost of physical activities as a multiple of the resting metabolic rate. The energy cost of an activity can be determined by dividing the relative oxygen cost of the activity (ml O2/kg/min) x by 3.5. This article summarizes and presents energy expenditure values for numerous household and recreational activities in both METS and watts units. Also, the intensity levels (in METS) for selected exercise protocols are compared stage by stage. In spite of its limitations, the MET concept provides a convenient method to describe the functional capacity or exercise tolerance of an individual as determined from progressive exercise testing and to define a repertoire of physical activities in which a person may participate safely, without exceeding a prescribed intensity level.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Exercise Test
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Oxygen Consumption*