After losing weight, the last thing you want is to watch the scale’s numbers start climbing again. So how do we keep ourselves in the shape we worked so hard to earn? According to science, the secret isn’t what you eat, but how much you move! Healthy eating is essential, but exercise is mandatory Whether you do it just because ice cream turns your stomach, for health reasons, or out of a simple desire to change, losing weight is a very personal thing. But regardless of your motivation, once you’ve lost a few pounds—often through a lot of hard work—it isn’t just to gain it all back a few months later.According to a study published in the science journal Nature by researchers from Anschutz Medical Campus in Colorado, exercise doesn’t only help you lose weight, but also to better maintain it in conjunction with a healthy diet. They discovered that the people who best maintain their weight are those who partake in regular physical activity, working to burn as many calories as they consume. Staying active is thus the most effective way to maintain a healthy weight in the long term—not permanent dieting. Is keeping a healthy weight impossible? ‘This study addresses the difficult question of why so many people struggle to keep weight off over a long period. By providing evidence that a group of successful weight-loss maintainers engages in high levels of physical activity to prevent weight regain – rather than chronically restricting their energy intake – is a step forward to clarifying the relationship between exercise and weight-loss maintenance,’ says Danielle Ostendorf, a researcher at Anschutz Health and Wellness Center. This study uses a rare but particularly effective method to figure out how many calories an individual burns in a day: analyzing urine samples. In another joint study, scientists focused on the BMI of these special people who were able to lose weight and maintain it, compared with those who find weight loss more difficult. Researchers realized that the participants that had managed to maintain their new weight actually consumed as many calories as those who were overweight or obese, but burned off these calories with frequent exercise.