Health and Wellbeing Apps in the Workplace: Couch To 5K (C25K)

Are you looking for a way to get more physically active? If you are considering running but are unsure or a little intimidated, one of the more popular and successful ways to get you running, from any starting point is the Couch to 5K (C25K). It’s free and it’s easy to join millions of others who have started running with Couch to 5k. The programme is free to access here – Couch to 5K: week by week – NHS (www.nhs.uk). If you want the app for convenience and ease of access,  the C25K app is downloadable for free C25K® – 5K Running Trainer – Apps on Google Play

In this piece, our second in a series on wellbeing apps that you may want to consider for your workplace, we look at one of the most popular apps to help get you running in a safe, enjoyable way – The Couch to 5K (C25K) app. Running isn’t for everyone but it does provide a plethora of benefits* to both mental and physical health.

Whether you work at home, work in an office or a factory, or spend your working life driving, running really is for anyone who wants to do it. Just get a pair of trainers and find somewhere to run. It’s not about speed or distances, just being outside and enjoying the time. Running provides a plethora of benefits; including

  • Improves overall fitness. Improves cardiovascular fitness, strengthens bones, lowers blood pressure and builds stamina and endurance.
  • Assists weight loss goals
  • Improves mental as well as physical health. Relieves stress and boosts your mood
  • Boosts immunity. Regular exercise boosts your immune system
  • Inexpensive hobby to begin. Unlike some activities which need lots of equipment, you just need a good pair of trainers to start running.
  • Sleep better

I’ve tried the Couch 2 5K programme and found it is helpful if you want to start running but haven’t run before or it’s been a while and you may be a bit unsure how to start then Couch To 5K or C25K is a good place to start. It’s ideal for first-time runners. Regardless of where and how you work, C25K comes with a schedule and as each session is never more than 30 minutes, it is easy to incorporate into your workday whether before, after or during. If you are a workplace looking to offer this or other running apps, consider whether your workplace is fit for purpose – does it have showers and changing rooms, etc.

The app takes you through the programme which is 30 minutes a day, 3 days a week, 9 weeks total with the end goal of running a 5K (3.1 miles). You don’t have to run a 5K but the app helps you get there and achieve your fitness goals.

I haven’t run a 5K, but the app has gotten me out of my chair and moving more and more regularly. I’m personally pleased because I can do the sessions (so far) with my dog so she’s getting the benefit too. 😊

Now to the breakdown:

Functionality

It’s obvious why the programme is so popular and why the app has also proven popular. C25K is very easy to access and use. See an example of the C25K workout to the right.

You can schedule your 30 min sessions before or after work or even do them on your lunch break. You just need 30 minutes and a pair of trainers. The app does the rest for you – tells you what to do, helps with your route, maps your route, even helps sort a playlist if you subscribe.

Evidence base

More than two decades ago, Josh Clark scribbled down a nine-week schedule to help would-be runners get off the couch and on the move. He called the training plan “Couch to 5K” and published it on the web in 1996. Since then, the Couch to 5K schedule has become one of the world’s most popular exercise programs. Millions around the world have followed “C25K” to a regular running habit.

Josh Clark is a runner and he created C25K not with academic rigour but from his own experience in order to help people who tried it to decide if running was right for them because running isn’t for everyone and, as Josh says, that’s ok.

What we like:

C25K is popular for a reason – it is easy to use and incorporate into your life (either during the workday or outside it). C25K is a program that’s been designed to get just about anyone from the couch to running regardless of where you’re starting.

It’s accessible and nicely paced, easy to repeat parts of a workout if you want or need to and your routes are mapped as you go so you can track your progress. If you’ve never run before or it has been a while, then the repeat part will be beneficial as the first week may be a little daunting for beginners. Just repeat as much as you need to and enjoy.

Cost and how to get:

The C25K app, like most apps, is free to download. The free version is perfectly fine to use to get you moving and in shape.

There is an optional £5 per month upgrade (Zen Unlimited Pass) which adds additional features like curated playlists and the ability to track calories and distance.

Quotes/testimonials from C25K app users:

“With the help of the Couch to 5k program, in less than seven months, I went from a 47 year old, 104kg, 30 cigarettes a day sort of guy to an 82kg, 0 cigarettes, running 45 to 50 kilometers a week sort of guy. Ten months after finishing C25K I completed my first marathon. Since then I have run another 5 marathons, as well as 9 ultra marathons including three over 100km.” – Satisfied C25K app user

“I hadn’t run in 15 years. I walk regularly but felt like I needed more activity and fitness after 15 months in lockdown and working from home, so I tried the C25K app. I didn’t want to do a 5K, just get more active. I found the app easy to use and the programme was very adaptive. I tried it at different times to see what worked best. I’m an early riser so I tried it before work and also during my lunch break. My best time was before work and it did get easier. I repeated week 1 but got through the programme. I haven’t done an actual 5K but I am happy with myself for more energy and losing 25 lbs. I’d definitely recommend this app if you are considering starting running. – Aaron Bohannon

What to do after C25K?

Once you have completed C25K, you may find yourself wondering what is next. Of course, there are a variety of running apps and C25K again but you may also want to consider local running clubs, and of course ParkRun. In Cambridgeshire and Peterborough there is also Living Sport – Living Sport Cambridgeshire & Peterborough. Living Sport offer a variety of free and for fee opportunities for workplaces and individuals to be more active, stay fit and meet people.

This series discusses different health and wellbeing apps on the market currently but, of course, creating a culture of wellbeing goes further than just encouraging the use of health, wellbeing and fitness apps. Creating a health & wellbeing strategy can help enhance not only a population’s health but overall workforce productivity and business performance. The Healthy Workplace service can help with that – Contact Us – Healthy Workplaces (healthyworkplacescp.co.uk)

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