Health & Wellness Articles

Your Fitness Plan for Weight Maintenance

How to Adjust Your Fitness Program after Reaching Your Weight Loss Goal

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If you’re thinking that reaching your goal weight means you can finally slack off when it comes to exercise, then it’s time to change that thinking right now. The fact is that people who are successful at maintaining their weight loss over time do as much or more physical activity than they did while losing weight.

According to the Framingham Study (the largest ongoing study ever conducted on what it takes to maintain weight loss over time), here’s what the successful “maintainers” have in common when it comes to physical activity:
  • They spend an hour or more per day doing some kind of moderate-intensity physical activity
  • They typically burn between 2,000 and 3,000 calories per week (on average) with exercise
  • They watch less than 16 hours of TV per week, and usually less than 2 hours per day
  • They incorporate a significant amount of physical activity into their daily routines, often by doing many things the “old-fashioned way,” without using modern labor-saving devices.
The good news is that you don’t have to live the life of a professional athlete in constant training to keep the bulge at bay. If you are athletic, continuing that level of activity is great, of course. But finding some kind of recreational activity that’s enjoyable enough not to feel like “exercise” is always a good idea. After all, you’ll have an easier time sticking to your exercise plan and beating boredom if you’re having fun.

But “moderate intensity physical activity” can also include brisk walking and anything else that gets your heart rate up to an aerobic level. In fact, walking is by far the most common form of regular activity successful maintainers do on a daily basis. And you don’t have to lug your laundry down to the local stream and do it by hand to increase your “lifestyle” activity; just unplug the electric can-opener and mixer, keep the cell phone in the next room, and take the batteries out of your TV’s remote control—you get the idea.
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About The Author

Dean Anderson Dean Anderson
Dean Anderson has master's degrees in human services (behavioral psychology/stress management) and liberal studies. His interest in healthy living began at the age of 50 when he confronted his own morbid obesity and health issues. He joined SparkPeople and lost 150 pounds and regained his health. Dean has earned a personal training certification from ACE and received training as a lifestyle and weight management consultant. See all of Dean's articles.

Member Comments

  • Great article. I hope when I reach my maintenance that I stay there. - 11/6/2013 6:35:49 PM
  • Hmmm, these comments are from quite some time ago, lots of concerns about having to burn so many calories and how unrealistic that is. I am getting ready for maintenance mode...hope to be there in about two or three weeks at most (though the last few pounds take a lot longer). I have gained/lost gained/lost so many times and this is the last time, so I am really trying to be prepared and knowledgeable about this. I really liked this article and I thought that the calorie burn was on target. Right now I generally burn about 4,000 to 5,000 a week through exercise and I am not a hugely obsessive exerciser. I fully understand that I am doing this for life....I might be able to back off a little when I get to my goal weight but I expect to still be burning a good number each week. Also, I am not some spring chicken...I am pushing 50 and have never really loved exercise....this CAN be done! - 8/27/2013 11:06:52 PM
  • After the series of comments against the 2-3K calorie burn, I thought I'd give the opposite perspective. First off, I'm a guy while it was all women saying that amount is too much for them. It's possible that the article needs to have a range of calories based on your current weight. However, for me, burning 3K per week is absolutely normal, and that's even in the winter when I'm not running. When it's warmer, I'll burn 3K per week JUST running, and probably double that once you add in the gym for weights and yoga. - 1/22/2012 11:07:33 AM
  • I agree ... 2,000 to 3,000 calories burned per week is insane. I don't think I've ever burned that many calories in a week - even during my weight loss days. I burn about 1,000 - 1,500 calories a week. People who burn that much must eat larger meals. They would have to to maintain daily body functions. - 8/13/2011 6:48:05 AM
  • 2000-3000 calories a week is too much for me. I used to burn 3000 calories a week and I found that I was working out so hard, that I stopped menstruating. Not a good sign! So, following my doctor's advice I have cut back, but only to 2000 calories a week. It has almost been a month and I still haven't started menstruating again....If I reach my goal weight next week, I will cut back down to 1500 calories. If that doesn't work, I am going to go right back down to 1000 calories a week. Exercising that hard is not good for my health. - 5/15/2011 7:00:58 AM
  • 2,000 to 3,000 calories a week! That is crazy. Now maybe I don't estimate correctly, but even at the "height" of weight loss the most I ever burned in a week was 1700 calories. Maybe because this is a result of successful maintainers being physically fit, but it is a little eye-popping. - 1/29/2011 9:54:09 PM
  • This sounds very much like what is in Anne Fletchers book THIN FOR LIFE. I have read it, and have made up my mind to be one of those success stories!

    I am doing pretty good so far. Only recently found out that my weight is about 5 lbs. less now than a year ago this time. I have not had to toss out my wardrobe and buy BIGGER for the first time in my dieting life. That to me is success with a capital "S"!!! - 1/31/2009 12:56:35 AM
  • Great article. Each and everyone of us SHOULD get to the maintenance stage and stay there, so this REALLY is what is important to talk about. I'm reading the book "Shrink Yourself" by Roger Gould, M.D. about emotional eating, so when I'm at goal I won't ruin it with stress eating, which has been a fear for me. Exercise won't be that difficult, because it becomes more of a routine each month I stay being a SPARKER. - 4/23/2008 2:07:04 PM
  • Great article! The more information SP can provide for successful maintenance, the better! After all, all of us plan to end up there sooner or later :) The comments on strength training were especially important. I was surprised to see the "hour a day" suggestion and would like to learn more details about how that was computed. - 4/12/2008 2:56:50 PM
  • thanks. that was helpful - 4/9/2008 4:19:19 PM
  • AFFINS
    Thanks for the information - 4/7/2008 1:47:16 PM

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