Written by: Denise Morgan
Initially it may seem like a daunting prospect to go from perhaps never having run in your life to comfortably achieving 5 kilometres each week. The NHS however has devised an outstanding plan, complete with supporting podcasts to motivate people to keep fit and stay healthy. The aim is to allow people who have never run and those who want to get back into it to do so with an easy to follow plan, with viable goals. Do not think you are expected to achieve 5k in week one as in fact you have several weeks of intermittent running and walking to assist you reach that target.
What is Couch to 5K?
Devised by Josh Clark, Nhs Couch to 5K began life as a cunning ploy to get his mother off the couch to join him running. To keep things interesting the plan consists of running three times a week with a free day in between each run. There is a different running plan for each week with every plan designed to ensure momentum and improve stamina.Rather than being a long hard slog from the outset, Couch to 5K involves a gradual process, with the first week consisting of running in one minute bursts.
Why Take Part?
The health benefits achieved from regular running are astounding. Not only can you lose weight and keep it off, but the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke can be reduced just by running frequently. Running is also considered an excellent mood enhancer, which can be of enormous benefit to those suffering from mild depression. Studies have also shown that running can improve bone density, which in turn can reduce the risk of bone diseases.
Why will it Work?
The great thing about this plan is that you are supported during each session. Simply download the podcasts and put them on your mp3 player to listen to encouragement and instructions from a personable narrator. With such clear guidance you will know exactly what to do and when to stop. People who have enjoyed the project compare it to running with a personal instructor. The podcasts also include carefully selected music making your run an enjoyable experience. This is a realistic plan which builds to an achievable goal and unlike many other fitness activities, Couch to 5K is a gradual process, perfect for beginners in the field of fitness.
Where Can I find more Information?
Visit the NHS website and after choosing the Live Well tab, select the Couch to 5K option for further details. You will find step by step instructions and can also access the download options for the weekly podcasts. The informative video is a great place to start when embarking on the Couch to 5k plan and the clothing tips are perfect for first time runners. The site also provides information for those progressing past the initial stage of the project, with options including Couch to 5K+, and downloads for increasing strength and flexibility. For those interested in learning more about losing weight, the site has a helpful guide with a 12 week guide for healthy weight loss.
An overview of what the NHS are trying to achieve with this running plan: