Health Sachet No 295:

Two days ago, I mentioned that exercise is an ineffective way of losing weight. However, exercise is a great way to reduce risks for deadly diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancers of breast and colon.

How much exercise? Previous guidelines said 500 to 1000 MET-minutes a week. But the new research above found most benefits at much higher, 3000 to 4000 MET-minutes a week.

What is a MET-minute? MET stands for Metabolic Equivalent of Task. When you sit idle, doing nothing, you are expending a MET.

If you run at 8 km/hour, you spend 8 times more energy, 8 METs. And if you run for an hour, or 60 minutes, at 8 km/hour, you spend 60 x 8 = 480 MET-minutes.

Try to accumulate 3500 MET-minutes of activities a week for getting the best health benefits. An inactive person expends a total of 60 X 24 X 7 = 10,080 MET-minutes a week. So try to reach 13,500 MET-minutes a week totally.

One hour of walk at slow pace will give 200 MET-minutes. So you will need 2.5 hours of walk a day, unless you stay active otherwise.

How do the new guidelines compare with the old ones? Earlier, 1 hour of walk, 3 times a week was good enough. 200 X 3 = 600 MET-minutes a week. Now, you would need 2.5 hours of walk, every day. 500 X 7 = 3500 MET-minutes a week.

Note that watching TV will give you 1 MET.
1 hour of watching TV = 60 MET-minutes, almost the same as sleeping.

Here is a comprehensive list of METs for physical activities:

  • Increase your daily activity significantly to reduce the risks for diabetes, heart disease, stroke and certain cancers.
  • Older guidelines of 1 hour walk thrice a week won’t do. You need six times that activity.