Craving a bikini body? Wanting to get fit for summer? With a burn of up to around 400 calories a session, Couch to 5k could be the extra boost you need to get into shape. The NHS’s latest initiative is a set of podcasts designed to coax you off the sofa and running for 5 kilometres 3 times a week in just two months.
If the thought of running leaves you in a cold sweat, or if you are still suffering flashbacks of those horrible cross country running sessions from school, don’t worry. This plan eases you in very gently, starting with running for only 60 seconds at a time in week one.
The problem with most running regimes is that they can push the novice too far, too soon. You can easily get tired, feel defeated, give up and find yourself back on the sofa, drowning your sorrows with a family size bag of Doritos. However, the Couch to 5k plan acknowledges this problem and tackles it by setting a set of challenging but achievable goals.
Designed by novice runner Josh Clark, the plan was originally formulated to help his 50 year old Mum get in to running. As a result, the plan is suitable for nearly all ages.
The beauty of the Couch to 5k plan is that there is no gym membership to pay. All you need is a decent pair of running shoes, which you can get for around £30 from most sports outlets. You could even go to a running specialist, such as Sweatshop, where the friendly staff will analyse your gait and running style before kitting you out with the perfect shoe for you. Bear in mind though, this excellent service is reflected in the price, so be prepared to fork out a bit more if you buy from there.
In addition to a more toned physique, running has a ton of other health benefits, too. According to the NHS, regular runners generally have a stronger heart and lungs, and there is some evidence that running can guard against osteoporosis by increasing bone density. Running is also an effective stress reliever and is a great way to tackle depression.
With the long evenings and the sun shining outside, there has never been a better time to give running a go and take control of your health.
You can download the podcasts for free from the NHS here.
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