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C25K - couch to 5 km: NHS web resources for getting "just about anyone off the couch and running 5 km in 9 weeks"

Well here's a good example of being taught by our patients.  I've had two or three people, who come to see me, singing the praises of the C25K NHS website.  The site states that "Our C25K plan is designed to get just about anyone off the couch and running 5km in nine weeks."  That looks good ... and both my patients and the numerous appreciative comments on the C25K website underline how helpful people have found the written advice and more especially the downloadable MP3 podcasts that are to be used when running.  

The site's general introduction comments "Taking up running can seem like a scary prospect, especially if you feel out of shape or unfit.  But, did you know that regular running can help reduce the risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke, boost your mood and
keep your weight under control?" 
Actually that ain't the half of it!  If you click on "exercise" in this website's tag cloud, you bring up a list of over 50 blog posts on the benefits of exercise.  Standouts include the somewhat stark "15 minutes of exercise daily reduces mortality by 14% - and each additional 15 minutes gives 4% additional mortality benefit" with its comment "So for happier mood, less disease risk, a better sex life, improved cognitive function, and a longer life - let's get exercising!".  Physical fitness is quite possibly the single most important lifestyle factor people can focus on to improve the quantity and quality of their lives.  Steven Blair's article "Physical inactivity: the biggest public health problem of the 21st century" demonstrates " ... low cardiorespiratory fitness accounts for about 16% of all deaths in both women and men in this population, and this is substantially more, with the exception of hypertension in men, than the other risk factors (obesity, smoking, high cholesterol, hypertension, & diabetes)".  And additionally we know of the "Association of enjoyable leisure activities with psychological and physical well-being".  On this website, it's worth visiting the six part series: "Exercise 1: checking it's safe to start", "Exercise 2: UK Department of Health, resources for assessment & advice", "Exercise 3: US Department of Health & Human Services, resources for assessment & advice", "Exercise 4: pedometers can help us walk more", "Exercise 5: the recommendation to do strengthening exercises" and "Exercise 6: where can I do what?".  Also useful is the handouts page "Exercise & light".

So I'm a big fan of exercise's value ... and it's great that the free NHS C25K website is a helpful additional resource for people wanting to exercise more.  The site contains a general introduction to the nine week programme, a good week by week overview of what the runs involve, tips for new runners, a section called how to run correctly, the opportunity to join supportive discussion groups, helpful links to other running websites, and much more.  Good stuff.  Most of my own exercise is via cycling, badminton, dance & hill walking. I have typically just used running as "bread & butter" exercise to underpin what else I do.  For a long time now, I have been going out and jogging for about 15 minutes before breakfast on three mornings a week.  I thought it would be interesting to use the C25K programme to try pushing this up to 30 minutes three times a week.  I have now reached week nine, the final week of the programme, and am about to head out for a 30 minute run.  It's been fun and has been made much easier with the support of the downloadable programme MP3 podcasts. If you're tempted, do give it a try!

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