Harvard Women's Health Watch

MET-hour equivalents of various physical activities

In a study involving more than 83,000 participants in Harvard's Nurses' Health Study, researchers found a strong association between a high level of physical activity and a reduced risk for colon cancer. Researchers used a measure called metabolic equivalents, or METs, to assess physical activity levels. Women who reported 21 MET hours per week—equivalent to about seven hours per week of brisk walking—were half as likely to develop colon cancer as those who got only two MET hours per week (equivalent to walking slowly for one hour per week).

The chart below lists the number of METs used per hour during various types of physical activities. For more information about METs and physical activity, go to prevention.sph.sc.edu/tools/compendium.htm.

Various physical activities and energy consumed in METs per hour

Activity

METs/hr

Walking slowly, less than 2 mph

2.0

Gardening, light

2.0

General house cleaning

3.0

Walking briskly, 3 mph

3.3

Heavy yard work or gardening

4.0

Climbing stairs

4.0

Bicycling, casual, less than 10 mph

4.0

Dancing (ballet or modern)

4.8

Snorkeling

5.0

Mowing the lawn with hand mower

5.5–6.0

Shoveling snow

6

Strenuous hiking

6–7

Rowing or kayaking

6–8

Skiing, downhill

6–8

Bicycling, 10–16 mph

6–10

Aerobic calisthenics

6–10

Singles tennis

7–12

Swimming, crawl, slow

8.0

Running, 8 mph

13.5

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