Examples of Physical Activities by Intensity #

Light Activity+
less than 3.0 METS*

(less than 3.5 calories per minute)
Moderate Activity+
less 3.0-6.0 METS*

(3.5 – 7 calories per minute)
Vigorous Activity+
greater than 6.0 METS*
(more than 7 calories per minute)

Casual Walking




Bicycling less than 5 mph







Light weight training

Dancing slowly




Leisurely sports (table tennis, playing catch)




Golf—using cart

Light yard/house work




Occupations requiring extended periods of sitting

Brisk walking (3 - 4.5 mph)

Walking uphill


Roller skating at leisurely pace

Bicycling 5-9 mph

Low impact aerobics

Aqua aerobics

Light calisthenics



Jumping on a trampoline

Weight training

Moderate dancing

Boxing—punching bag

Most aerobic machines (e.g., stair climber, elliptical, stationary bike)— moderate pace

Competitive tennis, volleyball, badminton, diving

Recreational swimming

Canoeing Horseback riding


Golf—carrying clubs

Housework that involves intense scrubbing/cleaning

Shoveling snow

Carrying a child weighing more than 50 pounds

Occupations that require an extended amount of time standing or walking

Race walking (more than 4.5 mph)


Wheeling a wheelchair

Mountain climbing

Fast pace in-line skating

Bicycling more than 10 mph

High impact aerobics

Step aerobics

Vigorous calisthenics

Karate, judo, tae kwon do, jujitsu

Jumping rope, jumping jacks

Circuit weight training

Vigorous dancing


Most aerobic machines (e.g., stair climber, elliptical, stationary bike)— vigorous pace

Competitive basketball, soccer, football, rugby, kickball, hockey, lacrosse

Swimming laps or synchronized swimming

Treading water

Water jogging

Water polo

Downhill or cross country skiing

Pushing non-motorized lawnmower


Occupations that require heavy lifting or rapid movement

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (1999). Promoting physical activity. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
# Information in accordance with CDC and ACSM guidelines
* The ratio of exercise metabolic rate to resting metabolic rate. One MET is defined as the energy expenditure for sitting quietly, which, for the average adult, approximates 3.5 ml of oxygen uptake per kilogram of body weight per minute (1.2kcal/min for a 70-kg individual). For example, a 2-MET activity requires two times the metabolic energy expenditure of sitting quietly.
+ Intensity level for an average person, defined here as 70 kg or 154 lbs. The activity intensity levels portrayed in this chart are most applicable to men aged 30 to 50 years and women aged 20 to 40 years. Intensity is a subjective classification. For example, what seems like vigorous intensity to a moderately fit individual might seem like moderate intensity to a highly fit individual.