Has your fitness regime gone out of the window? Grab your trainers and download this app!

Don’t have the money or time to spend at a gym? Millions of people have decided to get fit for free using the NHS Couch To 5K app. It’s considered a sensible, supposedly foolproof way to take you from being a couch potato to running five kilometres. Tempted? It got some of The GWG team off the starting tracks, so it really does work.

Running plan

This is a nine-week running plan for complete beginners delivered through a series of Couch to 5k podcasts. So you get someone in your ear, telling you when to start and stop running. No slacking allowed.

Designed for novice runners

The schedule, designed for novice runners, involves three runs a week with a rest day in between and a different running schedule every week. It builds up users’ fitness with a mix of running and walking. Each session starts with five minutes of brisk walking to warm up and finishes with five minutes brisk walking to warm down. You get to choose a celebrity trainer from Radio DJ Jo Whiley; comedian and actor Sanjeev Kohli; 13-time Olympica and World Championship gold medallist Michael Johnson; and comedian Sarah Milican. Follow their instructions and they will spur you on every step of the way. The trainers will tell you when to run and when to walk. The App displays a countdown timer so you can see how long you’ve got left of each run. You can track your progress over the nine-week programme and rate you feel after each session.

‘Even if you have never done any running before, Couch To 5K has helped hundreds of thousands of people get fitter and healthier, and now I will keep you even more motivated at every stage,’ says Michael Johnson. ‘It might not feel possible at the moment, but you will be amazed at how quickly you can get into running even if you haven’t used your trainers for years or feel that even jogging to the end of the road is beyond you. Being active is so important for your health at any age.’

Grit your teeth, trust the App and get running. It’s a mental challenge as much as a physical one, and the voiceovers help you. The structured programme, and podcast telling you when you’d reached half way, helps you push through pain barriers. You can download past episodes, or subscribe to future episodes of NHS Coach to 5K by NHS Choices for free. It has been produced in association with the BBC Get Inspired.

Physical activity guidelines

There are useful physiical activity guidelines, including how to improve your strength and flexibility, exercise tips, ten-minute workouts all of which you can do on your non-running days.

What people say:
‘I have just completed my 3rd run of the final week, so for me the app did it’s job and I can now run 5k. However it did take me 14 weeks! The app is pretty simple to use, and I had no issues with using it with my music playlists,’ Grover Netzer.

‘I can’t recommend this highly enough. I’m very overweight and have never run but back in October I decided to start somewhere so it may as well be here. I chose Sarah Millican’s voice to coach me through and she was perfect. Nine weeks on and I can now run for 30 minutes without stopping which I never thought I would be able to do,’ Noodle.

Download the podcasts on iTunes.

Updated 2020


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