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Running app downloaded over five million times this month

An app that encourages people to regularly run and plan their exercise has been downloaded more than five million times this month.

The Couch to 5K app contains advice and information from a celebrity coach to help users record their progress as they aim to complete three runs a week. The former Olympic champion Denise Lewis has been recruited as a coach for the app with the Tokyo Olympics due to start in seven days' time.

The app was created by Public Health England and the BBC to inspire people who do not exercise regularly and was downloaded 2.36 million times between March 2020 and July this year. This month's number of downloads has surpassed that

PHE said app downloads during the pandemic increased by 92 per cent last year compared with 2019. The government is expected to launch the Office for Health Promotion this autumn to support people with obesity, mental health problems and encourage more people to exercise.

"We’re thrilled that so many people have been using the Couch to 5K app to get more active over lockdown," said professor John Newton, director of health improvement at PHE.

"Keeping active is not only good for our physical health but also crucial for our mental health, and we hope the app has helped people to cope better with the challenges the pandemic has brought.

"It’s never too late to start introducing physical activity into your life. With the Olympics just round the corner and new celebrity coaches to spur you on to reach the 5K goal, now is a great time to give the app a go if you haven’t already.

"The app is made to allow users to slowly build up their activity over time, helping to keep you motivated, so it’s perfect for people who are new to running or who haven’t been active in a while."

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