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OBJECTIVES: The health benefits of professional sport dissipate after retirement unless an active lifestyle is adopted, yet reasons for adopting an active or inactive lifestyle after retirement from sport are poorly understood. Elite cricket is all-encompassing, requiring a high volume of activity and unique physical demands. We aimed to identify influences on physical activity behaviours in active and insufficiently active former elite cricketers and provide practical strategies for promoting physical activity after cricket retirement. DESIGN: 18 audio-recorded semistructured telephone interviews were performed. An inductive thematic approach was used and coding was iterative and data-driven facilitated by NVivo software. Themes were compared between sufficiently active and insufficiently active participants. SETTING: All participants formerly played professional cricket in the UK. PARTICIPANTS: Participants were male, mean age 57±11 (range 34-77) years, participated in professional cricket for 12±7 seasons and retired on average 23±9 years previously. Ten participants (56%) were classified as sufficiently active according to the UK Physical Activity Guidelines (moderate-intensity activity ≥150 min per week or vigorous-intensity activity ≥75 min per week). Eight participants did not meet these guidelines and were classified as insufficiently active. RESULTS: Key physical activity influences were time constraints, habit formation, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, physical activity preferences, pain/physical impairment and cricket coaching. Recommendations for optimising physical activity across the lifespan after cricket retirement included; prioritise physical activity, establish a physical activity plan prior to cricket retirement and don't take a break from physical activity, evaluate sources of physical activity motivation and incorporate into a physical activity plan, find multiple forms of satisfying physical activity that can be adapted to accommodate fluctuations in physical capabilities across the lifespan and coach cricket. CONCLUSIONS: Physically active and less active retired cricketers shared contrasting attributes that informed recommendations for promoting a sustainable, physically active lifestyle after retirement from professional cricket.

Original publication




Journal article


Bmj open

Publication Date





exercise barriers, exercise motivation, exercise preferences, osteoarthritis, pain coping, sport, Adult, Aged, Athletes, Attitude to Health, Exercise, Habits, Health Promotion, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Qualitative Research, Retirement, Risk Factors, Sedentary Behavior, Time Factors