Couch to 5K is a free running plan for beginners provided by Public Health England (PHE) and the BBC, helping those who don’t regularly exercise or keep active to take positive steps for their health and fitness. Downloads surpassed 5 million this month.
The app has been downloaded 2.36 million times since the pandemic started (March 2020 to July 2021) by people seeking to get more active during lockdown. The pandemic saw app downloads skyrocket, increasing by 92% in 2020 compared to 2019.
"The app is made to allow users to slowly build up their activity over time," said Professor John Newton, Director of Health Improvement at PHE. "We’re thrilled that so many people have been using the Couch to 5K app to get more active over lockdown."
Designed for people who have done little or no running, the app provides guided commentary from a celebrity coach of their choosing and helps users to easily track their progress by doing 3 runs per week.
Regular running has been shown to reduce the risk of long-term illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke, as well as helping to maintain a healthier weight and improve your mood.
To encourage people to download the app, users will soon be able to choose Olympic champion Denise LewisOBEas their Couch to 5K coach, who will be a key presenter for this year’s BBC Olympics coverage.
PHE teamed up with BBC to create the Couch to 5K mobile app in 2016, and since then we have been working with them to help more people access the app. This year the BBC will be helping to encourage new users to download the app by promoting it during their 2021 Olympic Games coverage.
The upcoming launch of the new Office for Health Promotion in autumn will lead national efforts to level up the health of the nation by continuing to support people living with obesity, supporting mental health and promoting physical activity.
James is the Editor of GovX Digital, and has been covering digital government and public sector reform for 20 years. He also oversees the development of the agenda for the UK's biggest public sector transformation conference.