Physical activity is important for health, and you’re probably sick of hearing we should all be doing it. at least 150 minutes per week of “moderate” exercise such as walking, or 75 minutes of “vigorous” exercise such as running. But there are other ways to stay active than these, and you might be doing a few of them already.
The physical activity guidelines for americans define moderate-intensity activity as anything that registers between 3.0 and just under 6.0 METs, or metabolic equivalents. A single MET is defined as the amount of energy you burn just by existing somewhere in the range of one calorie per minute. (This will, of course, vary from person to person depending on your body size, age, etc.) So if a brisk walk makes you burn four times as much energy as you expend in lying in your bed, we’d say that counts as 4 METs and is solidly in the “moderate” category.
Here’s the cool thing: Batches things register between 3 and 6 MET. Teams of scientists tested the energy consumption of different laboratory activities and produced graphs of their MET measurements. These include household chores like certain types of cleaning, as well as activities you might not consider exercise, like playing golf or working a job that keeps you on your feet all day. Here are some of the things that fall into the “moderate” range:
Activities between 3 and 4 MET:
- Slower tempo ballroom dances, such as waltz, foxtrot, slow dance, samba, tango, 19th century dance, mambo, and cha cha.
- Walk and carry a small child who weighs 15 lbs. or more
- Nails to hammer
- Play guitar in a rock and roll band (standing)
- Working as a bartender, store clerk, librarian, or other jobs that require you to stand or walk
- play frisbee
- Sailing, including windsurfing and ice sailing
- make beds
- Work on a car
- Caribbean dances, including Abakua, Beguine, Bellair, Bongo, Brukin’s, Caribbean Quadrills, Dinki Mini, Gere, Gumbay, Ibo, Jonkonnu, Kumina, Oreisha and Jambu
- Wash cars, wash windows or clean the garage
In general, most jobs or tasks that put you on your feet show around 3 METs. Want a step forward? The following are 4 METs or more:
- Do laundry where you wash clothes by hand and hang them up
- Elderly care, including bathing, dressing, or moving the person in and out of bed
- Housekeeping jobs, such as cleaning bathrooms and pushing a cart of cleaning supplies
- Coach of football, soccer, basketball, baseball, swimming, etc.
- Pushing or pulling a stroller or walking with children
- Plant things in the garden
- Take care of the horses by feeding them, watering them and cleaning the boxes
- Dances like Greek and Mmid mediumback folk dances, hula, salsa, merengue, bamba y plena, flamenco, belly and swing
- Mow the lawn with an electric mower
- Doubles tennis
- Recreational swimming, such as a leisurely backstroke
Farm and yard tasks appear a lot in this range, alongside drills like power yoga and using a rowing machine on one of the lightest settings. Next, things that register 5 METs or more:
- Classical, modern or jazz dance
- Gutter cleaning
- Painting the exterior of your house
- Use crutches
- Spiritual dance in church
- Shoveling snow with “moderate effort” (“shoveling snow, general” is in a higher category)
- Hike or walk through fields and hillsides
- fast ballroom dancing
- Hit a punching bag
- Ice skating at 9 mph or less
- rodeo sports
- Moving furniture and transporting boxes
The 5+ category also includes boot camp classes, military-style obstacle courses, heavy squats, and swim laps. Anything harder work than listed here is likely to be in the MET 6+ category, which starts with basketball, cheerleading, and driving a drag race car, and go up from there.