Millions of runs were completed using the NHS Couch to 5k app in 2022

couch to 5k stats 2022
Millions of runs completed with Couch to 5k appvitranc - Getty Images

According to the Department of Health and Social Care, an incredible 6.46 million runs were completed across the UK between 1 January and 29 December 2022 using the free NHS Couch to 5k app.

A total of 937,724 runs were completed in January 2022 alone, with 12,500 people using the app to run on New Year’s Day itself. The app also saw a 7.5% increase in people staying active over the Christmas period – with 8,600 people using the app to run on Christmas Day and Boxing Day in 2022, up from 8,000 in 2021.

For many, running is a great way to get fit, feel better and perhaps even form new friendships - with the added benefit of being mostly free. All you really need is the right pair of running shoes and you’re good to go.

Naturally as it’s the new year – a time when people often set resolutions around improving their health or happiness (or both) – the Government are encouraging people to try something new, download the Couch to 5k app and kick 2023 off with a healthy start, like millions before them.

‘The start of a new year is a great time to make healthy lifestyle changes and the free NHS Couch to 5K app is a brilliant way to get fit and healthy for free, as people look to exercise for less due to the rising cost of living,’ says public health minister Neil O’Brien.

‘Keeping fit can have a positive impact on our health, preventing risks of developing serious illness such as heart disease and diabetes – helping to reduce pressure on the NHS,’ he adds.

With the rising cost of living starting to make fitness feel inaccessible – a recent YouGov poll revealed that 10% of adults in Great Britain (around 5.1 million people) have either cancelled or are considering cancelling a gym or other sports or exercise membership ‘due to the rising cost of living’ – running is an easy and affordable way to keep fit and healthy.

‘I hope people will be inspired by the progress of hundreds of thousands of others and will give the app a try – it costs nothing and could be the best resolution you make this year,’ says O’Brien.

For those who are new to it, the Couch to 5k app is primarily aimed at beginner runners – people who have done very little or no running before, or are perhaps getting back into running after injury or pregnancy – and offers structured guidance and commentary from a coach to help people track their progress over three runs each week. Sessions start with as little as one minute blocks of running with walking breaks, and build up the running time until you can run 5k continuously.

‘It’s brilliant to see so many people have kept active through using the NHS Couch to 5K app in 2022 and I hope the trend continues into 2023,’ says deputy chief medical officer and joint lead for OHID, Dr Jeanelle de Gruchy. ‘With over 6 million runs completed this year, every run represents someone taking a small step towards improving their health, getting a bit of me-time and progressing to that 5-kilometre goal. If you do one thing this new year, get moving and download the Couch to 5K app.’

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