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Get moving with METs

Get moving with METs

Friday 2 June 2006.

A paper published in today's New Zealand Medical Journal reports the intensities of physical activities undertaken by New Zealanders. The study, performed under the supervision of Dr Robert Scragg in the School of Population Health of the University of Auckland, measured the metabolic activity of people performing everyday tasks such as child-minding and gardening as well as competitive sports such as rugby and cycling and recreational activities such as kapahaka.

"Physical exercise is an important component of the fight against obesity," said Dr Ross Boswell, Chairman of the NZMA. "This study helps to show which activities burn up energy, and so help with weight loss."

The exercises are measured in metabolic equivalents (METs) which are multiples of the energy expended by an adult sitting quietly at rest. Of the activities assessed, competitive cycling scored highest at 10.0 METs, with rugby at 8.3 and touch rugby at 6.4. Jogging scored 7.4 METs, aquarobics and swimming both 5.9, tennis 5.8, golf 5.3, brisk walking 4.4 and lawn bowls 3.2. Household activities such as gardening (4.0), housework (4.3) and childcare (2.8) were also assessed. Even couch potatoes can expend 3.3 METs with the emotional stress of watching sport.

Dr Boswell said: "The recommended level of activity for good health is about 5 hours per week of brisk walking, an energy expenditure of about 4.4 METs. These tables provide a range of daily activities such as housework and sports such as golf are roughly equivalent, and this is a helpful guide for those looking to improve their health."

"Strategies that build exercise into daily life are more effective at achieving long-term health benefits than New Year's resolutions that quickly lapse."


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