We would like to introduce you to a new concept we are promoting called METRECs. It is our hope that METRECs will clarify how much physical activity is actually necessary to provide health benefits. First, some background information as to why we think this should be important to you.
Take a quick glance over the top ten causes of death in the United States:
If you were to look at all of the controllable or modifiable factors that increase risk for each of these causes of death, one of the most common (if not THE most common) is the lack of physical activity.
While this may be new information to you, it is certainly not new information for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). As a result of physical inactivity playing such a big role in risk of health problems and premature death, the CDC and ACSM have created guidelines (based on years of research) as to how much physical activity is necessary to improve your health and reduce your risk of developing various chronic diseases.
Take a quick glance over these guidelines for physical activity:
While these guidelines may seem straightforward at first glance, it is sometimes difficult to differentiate between the intensity of various activities. The system that we have developed, called METRECs, will help to simplify these guidelines and will help you to more accurately insure that you are getting adequate levels at recommended intensities of physical activity.
METRECs involves using a bit of an old school method of estimating the intensity level of an activity. This method is called METs or Metabolic Equivalents. Using METs, we are able to assign a numeric value to different activities and hopefully help you to visualize how different activities that are not specifically exercise would be categorized:
1 MET=Your metabolism, or the amount of oxygen you are consuming, at rest
2 METs=Double your resting metabolism
3 METs= Triple your resting metabolism
The American College of Sports Medicine defines a “moderate intensity activity” as one that is in the 5-7 MET range.
This means that in order for someone to improve their health and be able to eliminate “physical inactivity” as a risk factor for themselves, they would need to do at least 150 minutes per week of activities that are 5 METs or greater. In order to make this easier for you, our new METRECs program will have an estimate of the MET level of the activities that we offer through University Recreation. Simply look for our METRECs logo beside any activity that is on our website or our promotional materials. This will give you an idea of how that particular activity falls within your physical activity requirements for the week. Say for example you play a flag football game (8 METs) that lasts about 50 minutes, you play a couple of hours of pick-up basketball games (6 METs), and 30 minutes of Ultimate Frisbee (8 METs); with those activities alone you have fulfilled the guidelines for physical activity necessary for the week to remove “physically inactive” as a risk factor. Obviously it is necessary to remain physically active to reap these benefits and it is not possible to change your level of risk related to physical inactivity overnight. However, it is our sincere hope that this system will help you have a better understanding of what is necessary to increase your lifespan as well as your potential for a high quality of life. For a comprehensive list of activities and their associate MET values, go to:
Be on the lookout for the new METRECs logo on our promotional materials. We hope this will help you to better gauge your physical activity decisions for meeting these health standards.
Dr. John Jackson
Assistant Director, Fitness and Research