Couch to 5K App review – how it helped my mental health

I’VE COMPLETED THE COUCH TO 5K APP! Wow, I really didn’t expect to have stuck to this program and actually complete it, but yesterday, I did my final run from the app.

I’ve always fairly enjoyed running; I’ve just never been that brilliant at it (breathing is such a struggle for me). However, during lockdown 3.0 in the UK, I was really going through a bad patch and I randomly woke up one day and was like ‘I’m going to start the couch to 5K’ and since then, I’ve done 8 weeks of running and now I can run for half an hour!

It’s actually really surprising how an app like this makes an impact on your life. When I flicked through the weeks to see what I had to do and saw an 8-minute run or a 20-minute run, I’d think to myself that there is no chance I’ll be able to do it. Yet, here I am, I’ve done it! The app builds you up slowly to be able to achieve these longer runs and it surprises you just how quickly the program goes. 8 weeks flew by!

Beside the achievement of completing the program and now being able to run for 30 minutes/5K, it’s massively helped my mental health.

I’m already aware how exercise brings improvement to my mood and makes me feel better instantly. Therefore, doing a program where you can see your progress, makes you feel even better because you see evidence of the time that you’re running for. Exercise is an essential for me and my mental health. I had no doubt that doing the couch to 5K was going to help me overcome this bad patch in lockdown.

I did the runs on my lunch break at work and on the weekend. Actually leaving my house on lunch and going for a run was SO refreshing for me. I don’t normally move away from my laptop for lunch (really bad I know) so getting out in the fresh air and having a change of scene felt so good. It also made me then feel more motivated to work once I was back.

Honestly, within days of doing this program, I already felt better about myself. It calmed my mind down because I was being active and having that time to myself, listening to music, running around my town. Don’t underestimate the impact exercise can have!!!!

Another positive to doing this program is that I can see a difference in my body. I didn’t start running to lose weight or tone up or even to become fitter, I did it because I needed a distraction, I needed something to work towards and to help calm my mind. However, it’s defiantly a bonus to see my body looking healthier.

The couch to 5K app made me feel free and confident. It made me feel good about myself and that I was accomplishing something. It proved to me that I can do something if I put my mind to it. It’s made me proud that I kept going and didn’t give up. I feel so much healthier and happier because of the exercise but also achieving a goal I set for myself.

I’d really recommend this app. Running isn’t for everyone but if you want to start or get back into running or give yourself a new challenge, then have a go! Now that I’ve done the app, I will keep up running 5K and track my time to see if I can run it quicker as the weeks go on.

The impact exercise has on my mental health

Sometimes I underestimate the positive impact exercise has on my mental health. Throughout the past 5 years or so, I have been to the gym, taken part in gym classes, workouts at home and recently started the couch to 5K program again. Every time I begin exercising after a few weeks or months off, I instantly feel the impact it has on my mind and mental health. It really is true when people say how much exercise can help you feel better.

I only started the couch to 5K 2 weeks ago but honestly, considering how down I was and how much I was struggling with lockdown 3.0 before I started running, the change I have felt within myself after doing a half an hour walk/run is truly impressive. Also, getting fresh air and blocking out the world with my headphones is another thing I love about going for a run! Plus the alone time after being in my house for the majority for the past year…

I’ve always enjoyed walks and have understood how much a walk helps me clear my mind and relaxes my anxiety or stress. So, I did have hope that doing a running program would be a positive decision. I think sometimes, we sit there and think how much we can’t be bothered to exercise, whether that’s a quick 15 minute ab circuit at home, or getting dressed to go for a gym class; it can feel like so much effort, especially on the days that are harder than others.

I remember when I used to do my clubbercise class at 8pm on a weekday. I’d get in from working up London at 7pm, quickly have a slice of toast for dinner and then walk round to the gym for 8. It felt stressful every single week trying to make sure I was home in time, and sometimes I would dread going. But the second, I stepped foot in the class, I felt better. My mind was busy copying the teacher on what moves to do next, the music was blasting and I did it with my bestie. It almost made me feel like I had just been to therapy for an hour. I’d leave the class and feel 100x better than what I did beforehand. I felt refreshed and like all my problems had gone away (which I know isn’t the case, the problems are still very much there, but it was nice to have an hour of relaxation and sweating out my anger/issues).

So, even when it is the case that you may feel like you have no motivation or effort to even move off your bed, always try to think how you will feel during and especially after your piece of exercise.

For someone who loves shopping, another pro to exercising, is that it gives me a reason to buy new clothes…yes, I know this may not be a sensible thing, but it makes exercise more fun! I love buying new clothes to wear to go for a run, or a new pair of trainers (for comfort but also style). Treat yourself, look good to feel good! Plus, who doesn’t love buying a new outfit???

There’s so many ways you can introduce exercise into your life, or if you already had a exercise routine and have fallen off the road a bit (don’t worry, we all have, its been a pandemic), then figure out what works best with you. Switch it up if you’ve had the same fitness routine for a while and starting to feel yourself getting bored of it.

Some exercise ideas include:

– Running
– Walking
– 100 squats a day
– Weights
– Hula hooping
– Skipping
– Boxing
– Yoga
– Zumba
– Focus on one area for a while such as, abs or glutes

Find what you enjoy most, or try something new!

The message I want to get across from this blog post is that, if you’re debating a new fitness routine or even as simple as going for walks more often, exercise does wonders for your mental health. Take it from someone who has struggled with mental health for years, yet like I said, whenever I then do a workout or go for a run, I can’t even express the positive impact it has on my health. Not only mentally, but physically I feel so much better because I know I’ve done something good for my body. Exercise has a lot of pros to it and I do think that its worth giving it a go. Not everyone will love exercise, but it may be the case that you try and then you end up sticking to it for months because of how good it makes you feel. Think about it in the way that, there is no harm in trying.