Determinants and Strategies for Physical Activity Maintenance in Chronic Health Conditions: A Qualitative Study

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Physical activity is promoted to help adults manage chronic health conditions, but evidence suggests that individuals relapse after intervention cessation. The objective of this study was to explore the determinants and strategies for successful and unsuccessful physical activity maintenance.


A qualitative study using semistructured interviews was conducted with 32 participants. Purposive sampling was used to recruit 20 successful and 12 unsuccessful maintainers. Adults with chronic health conditions were recruited having completed a physical activity referral scheme 6 months before study commencement. The IPAQ and SPAQ were used to categorize participants according to physical activity status. Data were analyzed using framework analysis.


Eleven main themes emerged: 1) outcome expectations, 2) experiences, 3) core values, 4) trial and error, 5) social and practical support, 6) attitudes toward physical activity, 7) environmental barriers, 8) psychological barriers, 9) physical barriers, 10) cognitive-behavioral strategies for physical activity self-management (eg, self-monitoring), and 11) condition management (eg, pacing).


The findings identified determinants and strategies for successful maintenance and highlighted the processes involved in physical activity disengagement. Such findings can guide the development of physical activity maintenance interventions and increase activity engagement over the long-term in adults with chronic health conditions.

Scott (, Breckon, and Copeland are with the Centre for Sport and Exercise Science, Faculty of Health and Wellbeing, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK. Hutchison is with the Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK.