Apple’s new operating system, iOS 17, now allows users to track in the Health app the effort they put into their exercise and activities of daily life–in clinical terms, it’s called the MET or Metabolic Equivalent of Task.
Apple calls it your Physical Effort metric, which you find under Activity metrics in the Health app. For this metric, one MET represents your energy when you’re not moving and calm. Anything above one MET indicates that you are active and engaged in physical activity.
With an Apple Watch, Apple calculates your physical exertion all day!
What’s great about this metric is that it can more accurately capture activities like strength training and weightlifting or running/biking/hiking/walking up hills (or even household chores and outdoor work) that require a lot of physical exertion but aren’t necessarily something you do quickly. It helps you see a more comprehensive view of how intense an effort you’re putting into your activity.
Users can track their energy expenditure in calories and their Metabolic equivalent of task (MET) for the physical activity they complete.
Unfortunately, at this time, you need an Apple Watch to capture this essential activity metric. If you use another wearable (Garmin, Whoop, Fitbit), Apple does not track this metric even when those devices share data with Apple’s Heath app.
MET is not a new metric or concept for understanding activity metrics. Your Metabolic rate is essentially the rate of energy expended per unit of time. Think of MET as a metric for your exercise intensity.
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How to check your Physical Activity or MET score on your iPhone
The new activity metric from Apple has been incorporated into the Health app on iOS 17. To track, you must pair an Apple Watch to your iPhone–you won’t see this metric when you use another brand’s wearable or when you use just your iPhone.
Also, it starts collecting data only after updating to iOS 17 and watchOS 10–there is no retroactive data.
- Open the Health app on your iPhone.
- Tap on the Browse tab at the far right bottom.
- Next, tap on Activity and locate Physical Effort.
- Tap on it to check your MET scores by day, week, month, and year.
Apple’s guidance on MET Score / Physical Effort
The advantage of a physical effort or MET score is that it excludes the effect of variables such as temperature, altitude, or heart rate. This makes the Physical Effort metric a good indicator of your exercise intensity levels regarding day-to-day activities.
One MET represents the energy you use when you are calm and not moving. On the other hand, you may burn 8 METS if you go for a bike ride.
You might use five METs walking briskly or two METs washing dishes. You get credits for your MET scores if you wear your Apple Watch while doing daily chores.
Types of Physical Activity and MET Score
By now, you have got the picture. Your METS will vary depending on the activity that you are doing when wearing your Apple Watch. Activities with a MET score over 8 are high-intensity and are best for improving fitness as long as they can be done safely.
The American College of Sports Medicine Guidelines states that we must exercise 150 minutes (2.5 hrs) per week at a moderate intensity. Moderate intensity raises your metabolism four times your resting state (4 METs), meaning we need a minimum of 10 METs per week (2.5 x 4 = 10) to lower our disease risk.
A good compendium on METs and activity types has been made available in the Journal of applied physiology. It also points out some of the idiosyncrasies associated with the MET score.
|10-11.9 mph, light effort
|12-13.9 mph, moderate effort
|14-15.9 mph, racing or vigorous effort
|light home exercise
|calisthenics, home exercise, light or moderate effort, general (example: back exercises), going up & down from the floor
|circuit training, including some aerobic movement with minimal rest, general
|weight lifting (free weight, nautilus, or universal-type), powerlifting or bodybuilding, vigorous effort
|water aerobics, water calisthenics
|cleaning, light (dusting, straightening up, changing linen, carrying out the trash)
|3.5 mph (briskly & carrying objects less than 25 lbs)
|< 2.0 mph (strolling, very slow)
|Swimming laps (freestyle, slow, moderate, or light effort)
|5 mph (12 min/mile)
|7 mph (8.5 min/mile)
|10 mph (6 min/mile)
|Boxing, in the ring, general
|Football, touch, flag, general
Why should you track Physical Effort or MET?
MET is a well-established health indicator and has been used in numerous health research over the years.
More recently, a Norwegian study showed that one metabolic equivalent of task (MET) increase in CRF(Cardiorespiratory Fitness) was associated with a 4 % reduced risk of purchasing antidepressant or anxiolytic medication during follow-up.
Increasing MET scores helps you stay physically fit and reduces the use of antidepressants and anxiolytic medications.
Harvard Medical provides additional guidance distinguishing the types of METs.
METs can also be translated into light, moderate, and vigorous exercise intensities.
- Sedentary—Uses 1.5 or fewer METs. Examples are sitting, reclining, or lying down.
- Light intensity—Uses from 1.6-3.0 METs. Examples are walking leisurely or standing in line at the store.
- Moderate intensity—Uses from 3.0-6.0 METs. Examples are walking briskly, vacuuming, or raking leaves.
- Vigorous intensity—Uses from 6.0+ METs. Examples are walking very quickly, running, taking an aerobics class, or shoveling snow.
Is my MET score low?
First, remember that at this time, only Apple Watches provide this data to the Health app–hopefully, that will change moving forward. So if you use a Garmin, Fitbit, or another brand to track your workouts, your MET may be very low because it’s not accounting for your effort.
Your MET score depends on numerous factors. According to a study published in the National Institutes of Health, Less than 5 METS is poor, 5–8 METS is fair, 9–11 METS is good, and 12 METS or more is excellent.
Although Apple still does not have a real recovery metric like many of its competitors (i.e., Whoop, Garmin, Oura), this new Physical Effort metric points to Apple maybe launching recovery metrics and even rest recommendations in the future.
We hope that you found this article helpful. Please let us know if you have any questions or comments.