Join 3,497 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Compendium of Physical Activities
July 15, 2010 12:56 PM   Subscribe

The Compendium of Physical Activities (PDF) estimates your energy expenditure during common activities.

1 metabolic equivalent (MET) is the baseline energy usage of a person quietly sitting. Sitting still all day is unhealthy, so leave a comment (typing = 1.5 METs), put away your groceries (2.5 METs), belly dance (4.5 METs), or chop wood with an ax, fast (17 METs).

The full list starts on page S505 (8th page). Alternate links.
posted by domnit (37 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
You know, I had to construct a version of this myself by gleaning other tables from the tubes of the inter and regressing multiple versions to estimate expenditure for the types of exercise I did (I'm very anal about the amount of exercise I do, as well as lazy enough to avoid doing more than I planned). I'm not sure how this will fit into neuroses, but thanks!
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:06 PM on July 15, 2010


p.s. I know three of the authors and should have just asked them.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:08 PM on July 15, 2010


Sitting and reading takes 30% more energy than sitting and doing nothing? How's that figure? I didn't think books were that heavy.
posted by backseatpilot at 1:10 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would venture to claim that if your 14010 burns less energy than the 13020 that precedes it, you're doing it wrong.
posted by NMcCoy at 1:10 PM on July 15, 2010 [6 favorites]


I like that they've blocked out a hundred codes for future possible "Religious Activities" indices. I guess then we'll be covered for things like "Full Immersion Baptism" or "Circumambulating a Stupa"...

Note that the link here is to an article on updates to the list, not the full list. (A somewhat more complete, but I think still partial list, is here.)
posted by aught at 1:12 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks aught, I thought it was the updated list, not updates to the list.
posted by domnit at 1:16 PM on July 15, 2010


I want a spreadsheet, so I can sort by METs and plan my day accordingly.
posted by everichon at 1:16 PM on July 15, 2010


Sitting and reading takes 30% more energy than sitting and doing nothing? How's that figure?

I can see that. I heat up pretty easy (and subsequently start sweating, if it's a hot environment to begin with). I often read while waiting for the subway to come, and if I'm hella sweaty, I notice that I can mitigate it a little by stopping reading, and staring ahead without thinking about anything in particular.
posted by Greg Nog at 1:17 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Okay, my favorite game so far is finding an activity I frequently perform (swing dancing) and then finding things that are metabolically equivalent (scraping and painting sailboat, caulking, planting trees, feeding cattle, forestry with power saw, orange grove work(?), social badminton, walking briskly and carrying objects less than 25 pounds.)
posted by lholladay at 1:17 PM on July 15, 2010


The Compendium of Business Activities

1) Jumping to conclusions — 5.3 METs
2) Flying off the handle — 6.2 METs
3) Carrying things too far — 7.4 METs
4) Dodging responsibilities — 8.1 METs
5) Pushing your luck — 9.5 METs
posted by netbros at 1:17 PM on July 15, 2010 [6 favorites]


Also, I'm wicked disappointed by the lack of specificity under heading 14; I was hoping for a breakdown of oral versus hj, etc.
posted by Greg Nog at 1:19 PM on July 15, 2010


I find it hard to believe that running 8-minute miles (12080, 12.5 METs) takes more energy than "boxing, in ring, general" (15100, 12 METs).
posted by haltingproblemsolved at 1:24 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think the next release of this document should have a further break-down of bicycling as an activity... but that's my favorite thing to do and I would hazard to guess that most folks don't get up to an 8 MET when they ride a bicycle. And I'd hazard to guess that pro cyclists do well above a 12.

And how does one calculate aggregated tasks? I mean... if your thing is vigorous skin-diving while having vigorous sexual activity and light reading all at the same time what would your MET be?
posted by Severian at 1:27 PM on July 15, 2010


Sitting and reading takes 30% more energy than sitting and doing nothing? How's that figure?

The brain burns up a lot of resources. This is why blood sugar can be important to concentration, and, when people have serious blood imbalances, loss of awareness and stupor-like symptoms are one of the first things EMTs check for.
posted by yeloson at 1:34 PM on July 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


netbros: "The Compendium of Business Activities

1) Jumping to conclusions — 5.3 METs
2) Flying off the handle — 6.2 METs
3) Carrying things too far — 7.4 METs
4) Dodging responsibilities — 8.1 METs
5) Pushing your luck — 9.5 METs
"

6) Thinking inside the box — 3.1 METs
7) Thinking outside the box — 6.8 METs
posted by barnacles at 1:40 PM on July 15, 2010


Severian, go to page S505 for a little more bicycling detail broken out by speed. Too bad they don't factor in hills as they do for walking, to some degree, on page S514.

It's all still pretty subjective, though. From page S515: "Walking to and from an outhouse: 2.5 METs". What about degree of urgency/force of clenching, walking uphill to the outhouse versus walking downhill back? "Walking, for pleasure, work break: 3.5 METs". Well, what if you;re going to the outhouse during your break?
posted by maudlin at 1:40 PM on July 15, 2010


Man I can't wait to ascribe a number value to everything I do! Think of the spreadsheets!
posted by The Whelk at 1:41 PM on July 15, 2010


I was going to go kayaking tonight, but it looks like I might as well just do some fettling in my local steel mill instead.
posted by rusty at 1:43 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


here's the official link for the compendium that the University of Southern Carolina asks people to use: http://prevention.sph.sc.edu/tools/compendium.htm

its interesting and potentially useful but I wish they would also publish some guidelines on how many METs are ideal for fitness (depending on age etc.) ... maybe its somewhere here but I'm missing it?
posted by Bwithh at 1:46 PM on July 15, 2010


Trivia Quiz: There appears to be only one activity that has an energy expenditure less than 1.0 METS.
posted by twoleftfeet at 1:52 PM on July 15, 2010


Trivia Quiz: There appears to be only one activity that has an energy expenditure less than 1.0 METS.

I might have dozed through that part.
posted by aught at 2:00 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I find it hard to believe that running 8-minute miles (12080, 12.5 METs) takes more energy than "boxing, in ring, general" (15100, 12 METs).

Absolutely agree. At 73 I run an 8 min. mile easily. Two ACTIVE minutes in the ring would exhaust me.
posted by notreally at 2:10 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Take it from the authors: Standing (2.0 METs) requires more energy expenditure than "active, vigorous" sex (1.5 METs). Reaaalllly?

This leads me to question the accuracy of their values regarding other activites, including mild stretching (2.5 METs) and standing (bathing dog, 3.5 METs).
posted by StrangerInAStrainedLand at 2:14 PM on July 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


I need to 14010 a whole lot more. But I guess that's a given.

If you didn't head right for the 14s there is something wrong with you. Just a warning.
posted by Splunge at 2:14 PM on July 15, 2010


Take it from the authors

Or, perhaps you'd rather not.
posted by StrangerInAStrainedLand at 2:15 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is there a conversion algorithm for METS to KCals?
posted by bashos_frog at 3:04 PM on July 15, 2010


Nevermind: weight (in kg, kg = lbs/2.2) * METS = KCals Burned per hour
posted by bashos_frog at 3:10 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Given the amount of time I spend at 16 (>20mph on a bicycle), you'd think I'd have reached my weight goal a long time ago. Alas, I'm a glutton. The Tour will have to wait.
posted by klanawa at 3:12 PM on July 15, 2010


Vigorous wood chopping: the new fitness craze!
posted by rbellon at 3:49 PM on July 15, 2010


WTF: the article cites "The effect of rope skipping rate on energy expenditure of males and females." but doesn't include skipping rope in the activity list?!
posted by nicwolff at 4:25 PM on July 15, 2010


It would be inappropriate to use this to try to estimate calories burned during exercise. You cannot simply assign a number to an activity and have it apply universally; there are numerous ways that one person can expend more or less doing the same activity as another, and I'm not just talking about bodyweight. Even the authors of this thing remind you that its only value is in comparing one activity to another:
It should also be stressed that the Compendium was not developed to determine the precise energy cost of PA within individuals, but instead to provide an activity classification system that standardizes the MET intensities of PAs used in survey research. This limits the use of the Compendium in estimating the energy cost of PA in individuals in ways that account for differences in body mass, adiposity, age, sex, efficiency of movement, geographic and environmental conditions in which the activities are performed. Thus, individual differences in energy expenditure for the same activity can be large and the true energy cost for a person may or may not be close to the stated mean MET level as presented in the Compendium.
posted by Rhomboid at 4:37 PM on July 15, 2010


I'd really like to see a breakdown of Jack Torrance's MET throughout the film of The Shining.

Breaking down door with axe: 12.5 MET
Chasing son through maze in deep snow: 15.0 MET
posted by lukemeister at 4:52 PM on July 15, 2010


Anybody else go looking for a breakdown of energy expended in specific sex acts? Just me? Okay.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 5:15 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


l33tpolicywonk,

From the tiny energy expenditure that's listed, I think they're doing it wrong.
posted by lukemeister at 5:19 PM on July 15, 2010


I'm unsure what to classify my biking as. I usually average around 22-23 km/h, which is about 14 m/h. However, I'm doing that up and down hills, on a hulk of a bike with not-exactly-fast tires, on dirt roads. So I'm either at a 10 or a 12 MET.

Even at a 10, with my weight I supposedly burn about 1000 KCAL/hour. Like klanawa, that feels like I should have lost more weight.
posted by Lemurrhea at 5:57 PM on July 15, 2010


The danger of reducing life to a spreadsheet: the two kinds of sex become "heavy activity" and "moderate activity."
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 10:07 PM on July 15, 2010


My theory is that in the interests of decency, they've hidden all the interesting sex activities under various euphemisms, like moving furniture (6.0), scrubbing floors (3.8), or sawing hardwood (7.5). Laying sod, using crutches (both 5.0). Eating at church (only 1.5).
posted by plant at 5:39 AM on July 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


« Older The Revolving Internet (music autoplays)...  |  As of about an hour and a half... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments