NHS Choices Couch to 5K


I am the User Generated Content Manager at the NHS Choices website.

You may already be aware, but NHS Choices now has a community for people trying out the Couch to 5K programme. It allows people to compare notes and talk about their experiences. We'd be delighted for you to drop by. Good luck with your fitness!


Rosie, NHS Choices


  • Curly45Curly45 ✭✭✭
    I am quite dubious about our health service promoting what is essentially interval training for beginners considering the injury risks associated with interval training...especially considering how difficult it can be to get sports injuries treated on the NHS.
  • True Curly, just had a look on the NHS website and quite a few of the forum posts are about injuries
  • The way I see it there is a risk of injury with any physical activity. You can get injured just walking down a flight of stairs.

    If the website is recommending beginners push themselves too far too soon then I can see the problem but otherwise I personally think the positives out weight the risk of injury that comes with any form of exercise.

    I think the more people getting out there and trying a hobby like running to try and change their fitness and lives is a wonderful thing and I'm happy the NHS are encouraging people on this route.
  • NorwichRunner wrote (see)
    The way I see it there is a risk of injury with any physical activity. You can get injured just walking down a flight of stairs.

    The trouble with running is that it can be quite hard on the body for beginers compared to some other lowwer impact sports, cycling or swimming for example.

  • The Couch to 5K programme is aimed at complete beginners. It is not interval training, which is an intensive form of cardiovascular training. C25K starts by alternating one minute walking with one minute light running, gradually working towards increasing the amount of running over a period of nine weeks.

    Running is a high impact activity compared to say swimming and anyone wanting to start C25K should get a health check before starting if they have any concerns.

    But all in all, as with most forms of moderate intensity activity, the benefits of exercise outweight the risks. For more information on the benefits of exercise read http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/fitness/Pages/Howmuchactivity.aspx
  • I wasn't previously aware of this but it looks a good idea to me.  The NHS are frequently regarded as 'preachy' when it comes to exercise but this actually adds some specific proactive advice and structure to that overall message.  I've also no problem with the basic programme - it looks pretty much consistent with every other complete beginner programme I've ever seen - start with a slow run/walk and progressively build up.

    What does look to be missing is advice on common beginners' injuries and their prevention - if we read the Beginners page on this forum it is clear that the overwhelming reason why people give up is injury and that the overwhelming cause of those injuries is trying to do too much, too fast and  too soon (usually overstriding onto a pronounced heel strike).  On here, there are a large number of knowledgable people who will offer help, advice and support to those struggling - I suggest the NHS needs to offer similar levels of quality in its advice if this initiative is to have the effect desired.

    I wish it well.

  • Looks like a sensible enough plan to me... I'll probably send the link to some would-be runners of my acquaintance so they can consider it. Publicising it on here seems a bit of an odd choice to me mind... After all, most people on here already are runners, and linking us to an area that will extol the benefits of exercise seems a bit like a case of coals to Newcastle.

    Or is it intended to get experienced runners offering advice...?

  • Starting a Couch to 5K program with our running club and used the NHS program. I think it works really well. We had over 20 doing it at one point in the first 9 week program although this did start in January so due to new years resolutions not working out, weather, hangovers from Six Nations weekends (as we do it on a Sunday morning) we had about 6 or 7 complete the program. Pleased to say that 5 of them ended up joining the club as full affiliated members and all gone on to do 10k runs and considering going up to HM distance by the autumn. They also brought along a couple of friends so we've had 7 new members as a result. It looks like we'll have a similar number finishing the second program with a few doing Race for Life last weekend, and others registered with parkrun and looking to go next weekend. Hoping a couple will be interested in going further and also becoming full members.

    We were going to have a break from doing couch to 5K, but due to word of mouth about the sucess of the first two programs we now have another load wanting to join! This is all in a small South Wales valley and we've now got a dozen people running regularly, about 40-50 different people turn up to at least one session, and several new members for the running club. Well worth doing if a couple of club members can spare half hour a week.

  • My wife has been doing this and is now looking at a first optional 10ks. Parkrun is a huge help to maintaining the fitness once you have it!

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