An illustration of a group of runners

Image courtesy of Getty Images.

Participants needed for research exploring the impact of ‘Couch to 5k’ on markers of health and wellbeing

Participants are being sought for a new Loughborough University project exploring the health impacts of the ‘Couch to 5k’ programme.

The popular programme supports novice runners to start running, with a view of being able to run 5k by the end of the 9-week course.

The study, which is being led by academics in the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, is needed as despite its popularity and being recommended by the NHS, the programme has yet to be fully evaluated.

Researchers will explore how the well-known beginner’s running programme – which is usually downloaded as an app – impacts markers of physical and mental health.

Willing participants are needed to commence the study between 29 April - 20 May and will be required to download the app and follow the 9-week programme.

Each week is composed of three training sessions on separate days, which range from 30-40 minutes of exercise per session (including walking time).

Throughout the process, participants will be asked to complete three online surveys on their experiences.

Of the research, Dr Stacy Clemes, the project lead, said: “Vigorous exercise, such as running, provides many health benefits.

“We have previously found that novice runners completing a beginner’s running programme delivered within a group setting experienced large increases in fitness, reductions in body weight, and increases in their confidence for running.

“However, the potential health benefits of the Couch to 5k programme delivered by the app are yet to be fully quantified.”

Those interested in being involved should email Dr Clemes at: to see if they are eligible to take part.


Please note, it is not possible to include anyone who:

  • Is not a UK resident

  • Is under 18 years old or over 60 years old

  • Is pregnant

  • Has a pacemaker or other electronic implant fitted

  • Has any uncontrolled chronic diseases

  • Has a medical history of cardiovascular events

  • Is taking medication for either blood pressure or heart conditions

  • Has any injuries or conditions which would prevent them from starting a beginner's running programme

  • Has been advised against participating in and/or starting a new form of physical activity by their doctor

  • Answers ‘yes’ to any question on the physical activity readiness questionnaire (PAR-Q) provided prior to enrolling in the study

  • Does not own a smartphone or have access to a smartphone to use for the training programme

  • Has been a regular runner within the previous 6 months

  • Has an underlying health condition and has been contacted by the Government to advise them that they should be shielding as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 21/65

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2020 QS World University Rankings and University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2019.

Loughborough is in the top 10 of every national league table, being ranked 7th in the Guardian University League Table 2021, 5th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020 and 6th in The UK Complete University Guide 2021.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.