Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health

What is Moderate-intensity and Vigorous-intensity Physical Activity?

Intensity of physical activity

Intensity refers to the rate at which the activity is being performed or the magnitude of the effort required to perform an activity or exercise. It can be thought of "How hard a person works to do the activity".

The intensity of different forms of physical activity varies between people. The intensity of physical activity depends on an individuals previous exercise experience and their relative level of fitness. Consequently, the examples given below are provided as a guide only and will vary between individuals.

Metabolic Equivalents (METs) are commonly used to express the intensity of physical activities.

MET is the ratio of a person's working metabolic rate relative to their resting metabolic rate.
One MET is defined as the energy cost of sitting quietly and is equivalent to a caloric consumption of 1kcal/kg/hour. It is estimated that compared with sitting quietly, a person's caloric consumption is three to six times higher when being moderately active (3-6 METs) and more than six times higher when being vigorously active (>6 METs).