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Can the 'Couch to 5K' app get the nation fit?

A Leeds Metropolitan University PhD student, who is conducting an evaluation of the 'Couch to 5K' running app, is looking to gather the experiences of people who have used it.

Katie Pickering, a research student in the University's Carnegie Faculty, aims to establish how cost effective these apps are for getting inactive people to meet current guidelines for exercising.

Couch to 5K is a nine-week running programme for beginners to running. Over the nine-week duration, the app guides users through a mix of running and walking on three days per week. This continues until the participant can comfortably run continuously for 30 minutes or complete a five kilometre distance.

There are many versions of the app. This research will focus on the version created by NHS Choices in conjunction with Change 4 Life.

Katie commented: "The overall aim of the project is to determine the feasibility of the app. We want to establish how cost-effective it might be, as a stand-alone intervention for individuals who do not meet current guidelines for exercising. It is particularly important to determine if this technology, and specifically when it is used via a smartphone, can help to alleviate the costs of health conditions attributable to physical inactivity, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke and certain cancers.

"Face-to-face staffed interventions are extremely costly to design and implement. Therefore, the project will examine how well this technology reaches at-risk individuals. With 91% of the global population now owning a mobile device, using them to deliver effective interventions makes real sense."

Katie wants to recruit people over the age of 18 who have used, are currently using, or have downloaded and not got around to using, any Couch to 5K app. Recruits will be asked to complete a short questionnaire about their experiences of using the app (or not). There is also the option of expressing interest in being chosen at random to take part in a focus group.

If you would like to take part in this research please contact Katie Pickering at k.pickering@leedsmet.ac.uk, via Twitter @C25Kresearch or Facebook www.facebook.com/C25K.research.

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