What is a MET? - Heart 2 Heart Cardiac physiotherapy

What is a MET?

You may have heard your cardiologist or a member of the team at Heart 2 Heart 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.

Did you know?

  • If you increase your MET (metabolic equivalent) 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.

Recovering from a cardiac event:

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). It is also worth noting that the hotter the water in your shower, the higher the MET level.

Each day that you are in bed you lose 15% of your muscle mass. This affects your exercise capacity. This is why after a stay in hospital you may feel fatigued doing day to day tasks.

When you complete an exercise test with a cardiac physiotherapist 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. Scoring a MET level of 5 means you can comfortably perform activities at 80% of this MET level. With a MET level of 5, we will start you off on the treadmill at a speed of 4.0 km/h.

How to improve your MET Level?

To improve your MET level you need to complete a structured exercise programme.  This involves completing a warm up exercising for 20 to 60 minutes within your heart rate zone – followed by a cool down.

To get your training heart rate zone you will need to complete an exercise test

Learn about exercise testing

Below is a video on the benefits of exercise training and how it works – it is 15 minutes!


Feel free to contact us at Heart 2 Heart if you have any queries

Contact us at Heart 2 Heart

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