What is a MET?

All of the data on the cardio machines can be confusing.  Calories, strides, distance, even heart rate are self explanatory.  Watts measure power.  This readout will tell you how much power you are generating.  Remember back to math class: Power = Force times Distance divided by Time.  Is this statistic useful to you?  Not really unless you are a competitive athlete!

But a statistic you should pay attention to is the MET, or metabolic equivalent.  METs indicate the amount of oxygen the body consumes during activity.  One MET is equivalent to the oxygen the body uses at rest. Being able to attain a high degree of oxygen use during exercise, and therefore have a high MET level, is an indicator of physical fitness.

But how does the machine know how much oxygen you are consuming?  It doesn’t!  METs as well as calorie measurements, are based on generalized formulas.  These measurements have been established through years of clinical research are generally accurate for the average person.

Moderate walking burns 3 to 6 METs per minute. Studies done by Cardiologist Martha Gulati and a team of researchers at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center state that a fit 40-year-old woman should be able to reach 9.5 METs while exercising, while an 80-year-old woman should be able to hit 5.  How are you doing?

The Cross-Trainer

I worked out on a cross-trainer today.  The cross-trainer is similar to the elliptical machine, but it doesn’t have the moving handle bars.

The cross trainer (and the elliptical machine) provides the same high-intensity workout as running, but without the impact on your joints.  Because the cross-trainer gives you a high intensity workout, you can burn about 10 calories a minute — that’s 300 calories in a half hour!

While using the dual-motion handlebars on the elliptical machine, you are working your upper body.  But on the cross-trainer, because you don’t hold onto the machine, you are also constantly using your core muscles (your abs and back) to stabilize yourself.

And due to the changing “cross ramp” on the cross-trainer, you use all of the muscles in your lower body — glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves.

A study done to analyze the benefits of the cross-trainer by Dr. Ann Ward and Dr. Kreg Gruben of the University of Wisconsin at found that:

  • The Cross-Trainer provides more aerobic work than treadmills, stair climbers, rowers and skiers at comparable low levels of perceived exertion.
  • The Cross-Trainer provides the high aerobic and muscular demands of running with the low impact of walking.
  • The Cross- Trainer provides 4 to 5 times more quadriceps, hamstring and gluteal muscle involvement than walking.

Compared to cycling or using an exercise bike, the study found that while aerobic demands and leg muscle activity was relatively equivalent, your glutes will get a better workout on the cross-trainer, especially while going forward.  And even more importantly, the cross trainer (along with running and walking) is a weight bearing exercise, cycling is not.  So if you want to build bone mass, get off the exercise bike and get on the elliptical or cross trainer!

So a cross-training workout gives your body the intense, calorie bunring workout of running with the impact of walking.  It isn’t perceived by your body as hard, and in addition to shaping and toning your muscles, you are building bone mass.


I did some weight training on Tuesday, and yesterday I didn’t even feel like I had exercised.  But today is a different story.  I feel every muscle!  Actually this is a typical response.  It is called DOMS — Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.

DOMS typically the muscle discomfort that is typically felt 2 days after exercise (although it can show up the next day, or even 3 days after exercise).  The exact cause of DOMS is unknown but one theory is that it is caused by the breakdown of muscular fibers which occur during strength programs. The breakdown allows the muscles to grow stronger and larger.

Others believe that DOMS is not caused by the pain from damaged muscle cells, but from the building up process. The muscle responds to training by reinforcing itself up to and above its previous strength by increasing the size of muscle fibers.  This reinforcement process causes the cells to swell put pressure on nerves and arteries, producing the discomfort.

Luckily, I know tomorrow the DOMS will be gone and I’ll be back at the gym!

I went to the gym today.


I went to the gym today, as a matter of fact I exercised today, for the first time in 38 days.  Will this be the day I restart my fitness-centered life?  Let me back up.  I have been exercising regularly and rigorously for 20 years (minus the last 3 years).  I used to run 20 miles a week, I lifted weights, ran three half marathons, three 10 mile races, and countless 10k and 5k races.  I skied, snowboarded, ice skated, hiked, rollerbladed.  I had a house full of fitness equipment.  I easily exceeded the recommended 10,000 steps a day.

But then I stopped.  A combination of personal issues led me to alter every aspect of my life, including my fitness routine.  I’ve been trying to get back into it ever since.  In the past 3 years I joined 3 different gyms.  In total I’ve gone a total of 7 times  I even started running.  I was up to 4 miles three times a week, but then I stopped.

But, I went to the gym today…