The total number of calories burned for any task is calculated by first finding the calorie burn per minute - this is done by multiplying the MET value of the task by the person's body weight in kg and 3.5, then dividing that number by 200.
Calorie burn per minute is then multiplied by the amount of time that the task is performed to find the total calories burned from the activity.
A person weighs 160 pounds and backpacks (a task that has a MET value of 7) for 1 hour and 20 minutes.
How many calories have they burned in this time?
160 pounds = 72.73kg
1 hour and 20 minutes = 80 minutes
Calories Burned Backpacking (per minute) = (7 x 72.73 x 3.5) / 200
Calories Burned Backpacking (per minute) = 8.9082
Calories Burned Backpacking (for 80 minutes) = 8.9082 x 80
Calories Burned Backpacking (for 80 minutes) = 713
What is Metabolic Equivalent of Task (MET)?
A metabolic equivalent (MET) value is a measurement of the energy cost of a specific physical activity for a specific period of time.
A MET of 1 would be roughly equivalent to a person's energy expenditure from sitting still in a temperature neutral (room temperature) room and not actively digesting food.
An activity with a MET of 2 would have a person using about twice the amount of energy that they would be using in a task with a MET of 1 over the same amount of time, while an activity with a MET of 10 would have a person using about 10 times the amount of energy that they would be using with a MET of 1 over the same amount of time.
It should be noted that the MET approach was designed to build a classification system of different activities for research purposes - MET values "do not estimate the energy cost of physical activity in individuals in ways that account for differences in body mass, adiposity, age, sex, efficiency of movement, geographic and environmental conditions in which the activities are performed. Thus, individual differences in energy expenditure for the same activity can be large and the true energy cost for an individual may or may not be close to the stated mean MET level as presented in the Compendium." (as quoted from the main page of the Compendium of Physical Activities)
With any activity, the more activity, the more burned calories.
To increase the rate that calories are burned backpacking, increasing the load in the pack, the speed of the hike, the variation in terrain, as well as the total time hiking will all increase the MET value. A higher MET value means a higher rate of calorie burn.
- Ainsworth BE, Haskell WL, Herrmann SD, Meckes N, Bassett Jr DR, Tudor-Locke C, Greer JL, Vezina J, Whitt-Glover MC, Leon AS. The Compendium of Physical Activities Tracking Guide. Healthy Lifestyles Research Center, College of Nursing & Health Innovation, Arizona State University. Retrieved May 11, 2015, from the World Wide Web.
- Arizona State University Healthy Lifestyles Research Center – Compendium of Physical Activities – Walking
- Wikipedia – Metabolic Equivalent
- Huffington Post – Proof That Hiking Makes You Happier And Healthier
- Backpacker.com – Lighten up: Losing weight by hiking
- REI – Meal Planning Tips for Backpacking
- American Trails – The health benefits of hiking and trails