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An activity's energy cost can be measured in units called METS, multiples of your basal metabolic rate.

Basal Metabolic Rate

Basal metabolic rate (BMR) is "the energy required for essential physiological functioning after 8 hours sleep and 12 hours fasting" - the number of calories to keep your body functioning while resting. Your BMR (Calories/day) can be estimated by multiplying your weight in pounds by ten for women and eleven for men, e.g. a 150lb man has a BMR of 69 Calories/hour (150 × 11 ÷ 24).

An estimate of your BMR

To determine your BMR enter your weight, select your gender and then select the Calculate button.

Weight Gender:     BMR: Calories/hour

What is a MET?

A MET is the metabolic work rate ratio to the resting metabolic rate. One MET is defined as 1 kcal/kg/hour and is roughly equivalent to the energy cost of sitting quietly. For example, the energy cost of playing rugby is 8.3 METS, which means you use 8.3 times more energy than if you were to sit quietly and rest.

A MET can also be defined as oxygen uptake in ml/kg/min with one MET equal to the oxygen cost of sitting quietly, equivalent to 3.5 ml/kg/min.

MET values for various activities

The table below (Walker 1991)[1] provides the MET values for several activities.

Activity METS Activity METS
Aerobic Dancing 6.0 Running 12 min/mile 8.5
Backpacking 7.0 Racquetball 8.0
Badminton 7.0 Rugby 8.3
Basketball 6.0 Skating ice/roller 7.0
Bicycling - 24mph 5.0 Skiing cross country 8.0
Callisthenics 4.5 Soccer 8.0
Golf 5.0 Softball 5.0
Gymnastics 5.5 Swimming 6.0
Handball 8.0 Tennis 7.0
Hockey 8.0 Volleyball 4.0
Horse riding 3.5 Walking 3.5
Running 8 min/mile 12.5 Weightlifting 4.5

Calories burned in training

With your BMR and the MET value for your particular activity, it is possible to estimate the number of calories you burn while participating. To do this, multiply your BMR by the activity's MET value, e.g. a 120lb female athlete undertaking an hour of callisthenics (MET=4.5) will burn 225 calories (120 × 10 ÷ 24 × 4.5).

An estimate of calories burned

To estimate the number of calories, you burn in a one-hour session, enter your weight, select your gender, enter the MET value for the activity and then select the Calculate button.

Weight Gender: MET Value:     Calories/hour


  1. WALKER, I. (1991) Running tops the weight loss league. Peak Performance, 4, p. 12
  2. AINSWORTH, B. et al. (2011) Compendium of Physical Activities: a second update of codes and MET values. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 43 (8): p. 1575-1581

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • MACKENZIE, B. (2003) METS [WWW] Available from: [Accessed