Being physically active is a key component when it comes to keeping excess pounds at bay as you get older.
For those who have always been active, exercise is a way of life.
Dr. Arlene Hankinson from Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine studied a group of young adults starting at age 18 to 30 who took part in a long term study looking at coronary artery risk factors. Their physical activity levels were tracked at six different times over 20 years.
"Maintaining higher levels of physical activity over time was associated with gaining less weight as you transition from young adulthood to middle age," said Dr. Hankinson.
Hankinson emphasizes that women benefit more than men from maintaining higher activity to prevent weight gain.
But it's not easy.
Of those studied, only 11 to 13 percent were able to consistently maintain high intensity workouts.
The study appears in this week's JAMA Report.