Integrated Care & Social Care

01.07.20

Significant increase in downloads of NHS-backed Public Health England fitness app during lockdown

A fitness app provided by Public Health England, and backed by the NHS, has been downloaded almost one million times as people sought to keep healthy and active during lockdown.

From March until the end of June, there were 858,000 downloads of the Public Health England ‘Couch to 5k’ app – a 92% increase compared to 2019, when 448,000 downloads were recording during the same period.

Couch to 5k is a fitness tool provided by Public Health England which serves as a running plan for beginners, helping those who are unfit or don’t regularly partake in exercise to take positive steps for their health and fitness. The application features guided commentary functions from a coach and helps users track progress, as part of efforts to support people who have little or no experience with running.

Recent studies have shown an identifiable link between the current coronavirus outbreak and obesity, with overweight and obese people in the UK being at a greater risk to the virus.

NHS leaders, who have backed the app, say its widespread adoption could alongside other similar fitness apps help aid even more people to lead healthier lifestyles. More than two thirds of people in England are overweight or obese with 876,000 hospital admissions last year related to obesity – an increase of almost a quarter compared to the year before.

Dr Nikki Kanani, NHS National Director for Primary Care, said: “Lockdown has been a difficult time for so many of us and with millions of people working in new ways and not doing the activities they usually would, we know that it can be much harder to get motivated to get up and go.

“It is incredible to see that practical tools like Couch to 5k have become even more popular over the last three months – keep going if you’ve started and download the app if you want to increase your activity levels. It won’t be the right solution for everyone, but it’s a simple way to begin and small steps can make a massive difference to your health and your lifestyle.

“We have all coped differently during lockdown, and for me, running and taking some time out to exercise with my children has been really important for me – we’ve seen huge benefits physically, mentally and for our general wellbeing.”

Rosanna O’Connor, Acting Director, Health Improvement at Public Health England said: “Lockdown has been challenging for us all but it’s hugely positive to see so many people using this opportunity to get more active and using Public Health England’s app, part of its Couch to 5k campaign.

“Keeping active is not only good for our physical health but also crucially at this time helping us look after our mental health. And staying fit and healthy means we’re also playing our part in supporting the NHS.”

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