Couch to 5k Exercise Plan

by Suzanne Hiscock

It’s no secret that running is a highly beneficial form of exercise. It provides a great workout for weight loss, toning and cardiac health. But many of us can’t run across the front yard without getting winded. This often leads to the mistaken belief that we just can’t be successful runners.

The truth is, almost anyone who can walk can run for exercise. Those of us who are out of shape just need to build up slowly but steadily. Too many people try to run long distances at top speed when starting out, and that only leaves them out of breath and makes them more susceptible to injury. A better approach is found in the Couch to 5k exercise plan. How Couch to 5k Works

Couch to 5k is designed with couch potatoes in mind. It starts us out at a slow pace, at first doing more walking than jogging. They work out at the same level for a week, then add a little more jogging to the workout. If the program is followed, one will be running 5 kilometers (about 3 miles) or 30 minutes after two months.

The Couch to 5k program is easy enough for anyone to follow. It only requires working out for 20 to 30 minutes three times a week. Each level begins with a brisk 5-minute warm-up walk, and progresses as follows:

  • Week 1 - Alternate 1 minute of jogging and 1 1/2 minutes of walking for a total of 20 minutes.
  • Week 2 - Alternate 1 1/2 minutes of jogging and 2 minutes of walking for a total of 20 minutes.
  • Week 3 - Jog 200 yards (or 1 1/2 minutes), walk 200 yards (or 1 1/2 minutes), jog 400 yards (or 3 minutes), and walk 400 yards (or 3 minutes). Repeat.
  • Week 4 - Jog 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes), walk 1/8 mile (or 1 1/2 minutes), jog 1/2 mile or 5 minutes), walk 1/4 mile (or 2 1/2 minutes), jog 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes), walk 1/8 mile (or 1 1/2 minutes), and jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes).
  • Week 5 - Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes), walk 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes), jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes), walk 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes), jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes).
  • Week 6 - Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes), walk 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes), jog 3/4 mile (or 8 minutes), walk 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes), and jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes).
  • Week 7 - Jog 2 1/2 miles (or 25 minutes).
  • Week 8 - Jog 2 3/4 miles (or 28 minutes).
  • Week 9 - Jog 3 miles (or 30 minutes).

Couch to 5k provides a way for even the most experienced couch potato to get fit. It requires no classes or special skills, just a pair of running shoes and some motivation. And by the time you reach your goal, chances are you’ll be ready to come up with all new fitness challenges for yourself.

If you have an iPhone or iPod Touch, check out the Couch to 5K program I’m using:

Couch to 5k

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About the Author

Suzanne is the owner of FitWatch. She's had strong interest in nutrition and exercise for over 20 years, and is an ACE-certified Lifestyle & Weight Management Coach. Back in 2002, she started FitWatch.com because she wanted to help people lose weight by creating helpful tools and calculators. A huge fan of calorie counting, Suzanne created the FitWatch Fitness Tracker to make it easy for people to count their calories.

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