The global burden of disease is staggering in terms of financial costs and human suffering. The general public is aware that physical activity is healthy, although the fact that physical activity can treat and reverse diseases, reduce the risk of cancers, prevent many chronic diseases, stave off cognitive decline, and contribute to quality longevity is less well known. Healthcare practitioners and policymakers are impeded in efforts to support physical activity due to the lack of knowledge of factors associated with physical activity persistence. The purpose of this dissertation was to determine these factors and identify which predict persistent physical activity among veterans to inform future programs and policies to support physical activity for health. The theorized influence of physical activity habit is addressed in the initial dissertation manuscript. Habits being more difficult to lapse from than to continue made them suitable for investigation to address the knowledge gap identified when no reports of long-term physical activity habits were found. Veterans provided an ideal population to study long-term physical activity habits with, as research indicates that veterans likely formed physical activity habits through recurrent physical activity required to meet the fitness requirements of active duty service. This led to the research reported in the second manuscript. The research was based on theory, literature review, and input from veterans. The integrated theory of health behavior change informed the predictor variables investigated. The explanatory and predictive cross-sectional study of community-dwelling veterans used the web survey method to answer questions of which factors were associated with sufficient or insufficient physical activity among veterans, and which factors were predictive. Recruitment of veterans occurred through Amazon's Mechanical Turk (MTurk®) and linked veterans to the survey on Qualtrics®. Findings revealed direct associations of exercise self-regulation, social support for exercise, and some service-related and other demographic factors with sufficient or insufficient physical activity. Qualtrics® allowed for the presentation of survey questions in a variety of formats. To determine the best format for survey items, a state of the knowledge review was conducted. This review is presented in the final dissertation manuscript. Implications for future research, health education, clinical practice, and health policy are identified. It is expected that the knowledge gained in this study will inform future Veterans Affairs programs, provider practices, public health initiatives, and health care policies to support physical activity practices for healthy longevity.


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Graduation Date





Edwards, Joellen


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Nursing



Degree Program










Release Date

November 2024

Length of Campus-only Access

5 years

Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Campus-only Access)

Restricted to the UCF community until November 2024; it will then be open access.