Name: Couch to 5k – Change 4 Life
Publisher: Antbits ltd and Department of Health.
Devices: We tested this app on a Nexus 5 (Android) smart phone.
Available from: Apple Store and Google Play.
Price: Free – users may need to create a free account to access the full training plan.
Type of information: A 9-week training plan designed to slowly build a beginner runner up to running for 30 minutes continuously.
For: Anyone – ideal to recommend to patients who may want to develop a more active lifestyle or even give it a try yourself!
- Main pros – Users can listen to their own music with the training plan; easy to follow and record progress.
- Main cons – The app can occasionally crash and if music is listened to on random it can sometimes repeat tracks.
Created in partnership with the Department of Health’s Change 4 Life programme and NHS Choices, the Couch to 5k app takes the successful podcast series of the same name and transforms it into an easy to use app. The programme itself is designed to take complete beginners and build them up to running for 30 minute continuously by using a walk-run method, making it ideal to recommend to anyone who thinks they “can’t run”.
Similar to the podcast, the app breaks the sessions into days and weeks, allowing the user to track how far they have progressed with the programme. The sessions are narrated by Laura who guides the runner by letting them know when to walk or run and by offering encouragement and tips throughout.
Unique features to the app include a progress wall that allows the runner to record how easy or hard they found each session, a section with tips and information for beginner runners, and the ability to listen to their own music whilst participating in the programme. Those who may have tried the podcasts with little success may find the ability to pick their own music a greater motivator so should give the app a try.
The app can be buggy at times and occasionally crashes mid-way through the session so users may find it best to let the session run through, rather than change music tracks mid-way through a run. Whilst a big pro for this app is the ability to listen to your own selection of music, again the music feature can sometimes repeat the same song several times and it is best to listen to music on random to minimise this risk. Lastly, whilst the app can be downloaded onto any Android or iOS device (e.g. iPad), the nature of the app means a smaller device is best as the user will need to run with it.
Overall, the app is simple to use and the programme itself is easy to follow, with many people reporting great success using the Couch to 5k training plan.
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