What is a MET?
You may have heard healthcare professionals talking about MET levels before but were not quite sure what they meant. MET levels are an interesting and important way of looking at activities, as it helps us to understand the energy cost of what we are doing.
A MET, or Metabolic Equivalent, is described as the amount of energy it costs to complete a task, determined by the amount of oxygen it requires. When you are sitting on a chair, you are using 1 MET. 1 MET is equal to 3.5ml/kg/min of O2.
All activities above 1 MET are multiples of the resting rate of oxygen consumption. For example, weeding the garden equates to 2 METs, as it requires twice as much energy than at rest. Let’s look at some other examples of activities and their MET levels:
Seated in a chair 1 MET
Taking a shower 3-4 METs
Weeding 2 METs
Carrying grandkids 6 METs
Outdoor carpentry e.g building a fence 6 METs
Meditating 1 METs
Painting Walls 4.5 METs
Cleaning gutters 5 METs
Walking at a slow pace (1-2mph) 2 METs
Quite often, if you are recovering from a cardiac event you may find taking a shower very tiring. This is because the MET level is quite high as you can see above (3-4). Each day that you are in bed you lose 15% of your muscle mass. This affects your exercise capacity.
When you complete an exercise test with us you will be given a MET result as well as your heart rate and blood pressure response. At Heart 2 Heart we use the Chester Step Test, where the exercise intensity is gradually and progressively increased from one level to the next. The MET Level changes by roughly 1 MET with each level.
This is so that we can measure your functional capacity more precisely and monitor your signs and symptoms with each level. At the end of the test, we determine your MET level, which allows us to develop an exercise programme which is more precise, more effective and safer.
For example, if you score a MET level of 5 on your exercise test you will be able to climb the stairs relatively comfortably, but you do not have the capacity to dig the garden. We will start you off on the treadmill at a speed of 4.0 km/h.
The good news is that exercise training can improve your MET level:
• Professor Blair demonstrated that if you increase your MET level by 2 METs you will reduce your risk of death by almost one third.
• A 45 year old male with a MET level of 10 has less than half the risk of developing cardiovascular disease than a 45 year old male with a MET level of 8.
Feel free to ask a member of the Heart 2 Heart team today what MET Level you scored with previous exercise testing.