Have we MET?

What is a MET and why does it matter?

MET (Metabolic Equivalent):  The amount of oxygen the body consumes per minute to create the energy needed to support body mass and activity. The higher the MET level, the greater the need for energy and oxygen. Therefore, the higher the MET level, the more calories you are burning during the activity.

Your body consumes calories for fuel as you move around every day. You can probably figure out that you are burning more calories on your elliptical than while sitting on the couch, watching one episode of “Once Upon a Time” after another. But it cuts a finer line than that. There is a difference between sitting and simply standing.

Above is a picture of my workspace. Hey – that’s this article right there on the screen. Notice the peculiar lack of a chair? My keyboard is on top of the printer, and the monitor up on the shelf at eye level. I stand while I work.

Does that make a difference?

The formula to find out how many calories are burned during an activity is: 1 MET at rest = 3.5 ml Oxygen per kilogram of weight per minute. Sitting and working is about 1.5 METs.* Standing and working ranges between 2.0 and 2.5 METs.* Your body burns about 5 Calories per liter of oxygen consumed.

We’re not going to make you do the math. We have figured it out for a person of about 150 pounds:

Sitting and working, a 150 lb. (68kg) person will burn about 107 Calories in one hour.

Standing and working, a 150 lb. (68kg) person will burn between 143 and 179 Calories in one hour.

The difference between sitting and standing ranges between 36 and 72 Calories burned in one hour.

It would appear to make a difference! And those Calories burned will increase the longer you stand up!

What activities could you change from sitting to standing? 

*figures for average MET consumption from Harvard School of Public Health