Home » BBC Sport and NHS Couch to 5K hits 7 million downloads

BBC Sport and NHS Couch to 5K hits 7 million downloads

NHS Couch to 5K, the groundbreaking free fitness app from BBC Sport and the Department of Health and Social Care, celebrates a monumental achievement as it surpasses 7 million downloads since its launch in 2016.

The important milestone underscores the app’s huge contribution to transforming lives and fostering a healthier, happier society.

Developed in partnership with BBC Sport since 2016, the NHS Couch to 5K app offers a progressive nine-week, three-times a week running programme, designed to guide beginners through a gradual transition from couch-bound spectators to confident runners.

Once users graduate from the 9-week programme, they can now unlock access to Beyond Couch to 5K. This new feature will help motivate people to make running habitual, helping them to improve further on speed, stamina and technique.

Each session is led by a choice of eight familiar voices including Sarah Millican, Yasmin Evans, Sanjeev Kohli and Reece Parkinson, beloved BBC Presenter Jo Whiley, and iconic Olympic champion Denise Lewis and World champion Steve Cram, providing unparalleled motivation and support.

The Department of Health and Social Care says regular running has been shown to reduce the risk of long-term illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke, as well as helping to maintain a healthier weight and improve your mood and wellbeing.

A recent YouGov poll* found that 10% of adults in Great Britain have either cancelled or are considering cancelling a gym or other sports or exercise membership due to the rising cost of living. The NHS Couch to 5K app is also free to use, offering an accessible avenue to fitness for all.

In 2023, there were over 600,000 new downloads for the app and a massive 1.90 million active users engaged in NHS Couch to 5K. A total of 7.39 million runs were completed by app users. Of the users who chose to share their gender, 75.2% identify as female, plus Sarah Millican was the most popular coach selected in 2023, with 23% of Couch to 5K users choosing the comedian to accompany them on their run.

Jo Whiley says: “This has undoubtedly been one of the most important things I have done in my career. The impact Couch to 5K has had on so many people, whether they have been rehabilitating, whether it has been for their mental health or whether they have just wanted to get fit, it has been so profound. It has been one of the greatest privileges of my life.”

BBC Chief Content Officer, Charlotte Moore says: “Reaching the milestone of 7 million downloads for the NHS Couch to 5K app marks an incredible achievement. It’s truly inspiring to witness the real-life impact this app, developed in collaboration with the Department of Health and Social Care, is having on the health and well-being of people across the UK.”

Public Health Minister, Andrea Leadsom, said: “Keeping fit and healthy is one of the most important preventative measures we can take to protect ourselves from illness and disease, such as heart disease and diabetes. Couch to 5k is a brilliant and free tool to help us, and it’s fantastic to see that 7 million people clearly agree.”


About NHS Couch to 5K 

NHS Couch to 5K is a running plan for absolute beginners. The programme was developed by a new runner, Josh Clark in 1996, who wanted to help his 50-something mum get off the couch and start running, it was then turned into a podcast and then an app. The plan involves 3 runs a week, with a day of rest in between, and a different schedule for each of the 9 weeks. The idea behind the programme was to gradually build endurance and stamina over the course of several weeks, starting with short intervals of running interspersed with walking.


*You Gov poll source – The Independent 
The NHS app can be downloaded via the NHS Better Health website
The NHS Podcast available here: Get running with Couch to 5K – NHS