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A gap in knowledge exists regarding how to maintain physical activity (PA) for individuals with acquired disabilities following initial introductory experiences. The current study aimed to contribute to filling this gap by exploring the PA pathways of military veterans with a physical disability, particularly those who maintain long-term PA, from impairment to the present. Veterans with a physical disability (N = 18) participated in interviews exploring their PA history and experiences. A reflexive thematic analysis was conducted to generate common pathways in PA participation, as well as to examine which elements of participation supported PA maintenance. Three long-term pathways were identified—two parasport pathways and one recreational PA pathway. Four elements of participation (i.e., mastery, challenge, belongingness, meaning) supported to maintain PA at key junctures. This knowledge provides further understanding of how to promote long-term PA for individuals with acquired disabilities and can support advancements in theory, as well as program development.
Shirazipour is with the Research Center for Health Equity, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA, USA, and the Dept. of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA. Latimer-Cheung is with the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, Canada.