Background: The purpose was to assess metabolic equivalent (MET) values of common daily activities in middle-age and older adults in free-living environments and compare these with MET values listed in the compendium of physical activities (CPA).
Methods: Sixty participants (mean age = 71.5, SD = 10.8) completed a semistructured protocol of sitting, lying, self-paced walking, and 4 self-selected activities in their residences. Oxygen consumption was measured using portable indirect calorimetry, to assess METs for each activity relative to VO 2 at rest (VO 2 during activity/VO 2 at rest). Measured MET values for 20 different activities were compared with those in the CPA, for the total sample and for participants aged 55-64, 65-74, and 75-99 years.
Results: Measured METs for sitting, walking, sweeping, trimming, and laundry were significantly different from the CPA values. Measured MET values for sedentary activities were lower in all age groups, and those for walking and household activities were higher in the youngest age group, than the CPA values. For gardening activities, there was a significant decline in measured METs with age.
Conclusions: Some measured MET values in older people differed from those in the CPA. The values reported here may be useful for future research with younger, middle-age, and older-old people.