Compendium of physical activities: Classification of energy costs of human physical activities

Barbara E. Ainsworth, William L. Haskell, Arthur S. Leon, David R. Jacobs, Henry J. Montoye, James F. Sallis, Ralph S. Paffenbarger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3382 Scopus citations


A coding scheme is presented for classifying physical activity by rate of energy expenditure, i.e., by intensity. Energy cost was established by a review of published and unpublished data. This coding scheme employs five digits that classify activity by purpose (i.e., sports, occupation, self-care), the specific type of activity, and its intensity as the ratio of work metabolic rate to resting metabolic rate (METs). Energy expenditure in kilocalories or kilocalories per kilogram body weight can be estimated for all activities, specific activities, or activity types. General use of this coding system would enhance the comparability of results across studies using self reports of physical activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-74
Number of pages4
JournalMedicine and science in sports and exercise
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • Exercise
  • Exertion
  • Physical activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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