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The Compendium of Physical Activities

The Compendium of Physical Activities was developed for use in epidemiologic studies to standardize the assignment of MET intensities in physical activity questionnaires. Dr. Bill Haskell from Stanford University conceptualized the Compendium and developed a prototype for the document. The Compendium was used first in the Survey of Activity, Fitness, and Exercise (SAFE study - 1987 to 1989) to code and score physical activity records. Since then, the Compendium has been used in studies worldwide to assign intensity units to physical activity questionnaires and to develop innovative ways to assess energy expenditure in physical activity studies. Version 1 of the Compendium was published in 1993. An updated version was published in 2000. References for the publications are below.

Definition of Terms used in the Compendium
MET (Metabolic Equivalent): The ratio of the work metabolic rate to the resting metabolic rate. One MET is defined as 1 kcal/kg/hour and is roughly equivalent to the energy cost of sitting quietly. A MET also is defined as oxygen uptake in ml/kg/min with one MET equal to the oxygen cost of sitting quietly, equivalent to 3.5 ml/kg/min.

5-Digit Code: Compendium activities are classified by a 5-digit code that identifies the category (heading) as the first 2 digits and type (description) of activity as the last three digits. Example:

Code Heading Description
01010 01 - bicycling 010 - Bicycling, < 10 mph, leisure, to work or for pleasure (Taylor Code 115)

To view activity categories and associated MET values, click on the following Compendium of Physical Activites website and select 'Activity Categories' at the top of the page.

When using the Compendium to estimate the energy cost of activities, investigators should remind participants to recall only the time spent in movement. The Compendium was not developed to determine the precise energy cost of physical activity within individuals, but rather to provide a classification system that standardizes the MET intensities of physical activities used in survey research. The values in the Compendium 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.

Using the Compendium
Researchers may download the compendium for use in their research. Users do not have permission to extract parts of it to use in their diet and exercise commercial products, free products, or any other use without the author's permission as well as permission of Lippencott, Williams, and Wilkins, who hold the copyright on the published the Compendium in MSSE. Teachers may use the compendium or portions thereof for educational purposes with their students. Websites may link to the compendium by linking to this page: https://sites.google.com/site/compendiumofphysicalactivities/. Those with questions about use of the Compendium for these or other purposes should e-mail Barbara Ainsworth at Barbara.Ainsworth@asu.edu.

Suggested citation:

Ainsworth BE, Haskell WL, Herrmann SD, Meckes N, Bassett Jr DR, Tudor-Locke C, Greer JL, Vezina J, Whitt-    Glover MC, Leon AS. 2011 Compendium of Physical Activities: a second update of codes and MET values. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.(in press).

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 [date] from the World Wide Web.

Past Compendium References:

2000 Compendium:
Ainsworth BE, Haskell WL, Whitt MC, Irwin ML, Swartz AM, Strath SJ, O'Brien WL, Bassett DR Jr, Schmitz KH, Emplaincourt PO, Jacobs DR Jr, Leon AS. Compendium of Physical Activities: An update of activity codes and MET intensities. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 2000;32 (Suppl):S498-S516.

1993 Compendium:
Ainsworth BE, Haskell WL, Leon AS, Jacobs DR Jr, Montoye HJ, Sallis JF, Paffenbarger RS Jr. Compendium of physical activities: Classification of energy costs of human physical activities. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 1993; 25:71-80.

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