There is an inverse relationship between physical activity and weight gain. However, additional research is needed to quantify the amount of physical activity required to prevent weight gain in different populations, improve the way we convey physical activity recommendations to the public, and help the individuals increase their physical activity. Although physical activity does not appear to contribute significantly to weight loss, it is critical for maintenance of weight loss. Available data are consistent in that 60-90 min/day of moderate-intensity physical activity is required to maintain a significant' weight loss. Although there is agreement about the need for high levels of physical activity to maintain weight loss, there is a need for more research to understand why physical activity is critical for weight loss maintenance. Finally, additional research is needed to determine whether there is an optimal level of physical activity below which it is difficult for most people to achieve a balance between energy intake and expenditure at a healthy body weight. The increasing prevalence of obesity may reflect the fact that the majority of the population has fallen below such a level of physical activity. Copyright © 2005 the American Physiological Society.