The Maintain-Your-Weight Workout

Exercise to keep the pounds off

By John Casey
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic

Reviewed By Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, LD

You've reached your goal weight. Your "skinny" clothes fit, and you're happy with the number you see on the scale every morning. So now it's safe to hang up your running shoes and cancel your gym membership -- right?

Well, not if you want to keep those pounds off. In fact, some experts say exercise may be even more important for maintaining a weight loss than it is for dropping the pounds in the first place. So if you managed to lose weight without exercising, it's time to start.

As seasoned dieters know, the transition from weight loss to weight maintenance is a tricky one. So now is not the time to relax your vigilance.

"Weight maintenance over time means you're making lasting lifestyle changes," says Catherine Fitzgerald, RD, a dietitian for the University of Michigan Health System's weight-loss program. "Making real changes in lifestyle is really hard."

How Much Exercise Do You Need?

You already know that you need to keep up with your new, healthier eating habits after you've hit your goal -- perhaps with a little planned indulgence now and then. But do you have to do as much exercise to keep the weight off as you did to lose it?

"There's not a lot of data on exactly how much people need to exercise to keep weight off, but in general you need to use 2,500 to 2,800 calories per week," says certified strength and conditioning specialist Richard Weil, MEd, CDE, a WebMD Weight Loss Clinic consultant.