‘Couch to 5K’ Program Is An Easy Path to Fitness

HYANNIS – Thinking about stepping into a new fitness regimen? You might want to check out Cape Cod Healthcare’sCouch to 5K Training Program.

The fitness program is designed to take you from a sedentary lifestyle to a fitness level sufficient to participate in a community 5K (5 kilometers or 3.1 miles) running or walking event.

The first workout starts with a five-minute warmup walk followed by 20 minutes of mixing jogging (a whatever pace suits you) and walking. By the ninth week, you should be ready to jog for 30 minutes straight, covering about 3 miles.

“It’s a nice, natural progression of increasingly jogging more in relationship to the walking time,” saidJulie Drake, PT, DPT, director of rehabilitation services at Cape Cod Hospital.

The program was adapted from a variety of Couch to 5K programs developed by former Cape Cod Healthcare athletic trainer Danny O’Keefe.

Five kilometers is an attainable goal for almost everyone, saidElissa Thompson, MD, a Cape Cod Hospital cardiologist and the medical director of the Cape Cod Healthcare/Cape Cod National Seashore partnership,Healthy Parks, Healthy People.

One goal for Couch to 5K participants can be the Healthy Parks, Healthy People5K Run/Walk for Heart Health, which starts at 9 a.m. Sept. 23 at Nauset Regional High School in North Eastham and continues through the Cape Cod National Seashore. Cape Cod Healthcare, the Cape Cod National Seashore and Koko Fit Clubs are co-sponsoring the 5K (5 kilometers or 3.1 miles) event as a way to promote fitness.

“We want people striving to take 10,000 steps a day, which equates to between four and five miles,” said Drake. “5K is a good in-between number, where we’re not asking somebody to completely go beyond their own expectations. We don’t want to give somebody a challenge that’s not attainable in a short period of time.

“Three miles is something that most people without major orthopedic difficulties should be able to do, especially if they train for it over a period of time.”

Can Work For Anyone

Drake knows from experience that the Couch to 5K Training Program works. She tried it last summer.

“I wanted to get back into being more active,” she said. “I had never been a runner, but if Cape Cod Healthcare is promoting this and I’m the director of rehabilitation services, then I should practice what I preach.

“I went through the nine-week program and I thought it was great. It’s very easy to follow. It was a great way to ramp up my minutes and my pace.”

There’s no need to have any beginning jogging or running experience before starting the Couch to 5K Training Program.

“If we’re calling it ‘Couch to 5K,’ we’re assuming that you’re starting from a sedentary state,” Drake said.

“We would encourage people to check with their doctor first if they have any health issues at all. If you’re pretty healthy, then it’s probably not necessary.”

Dr. Thompson invites people to stop in at Cape Cod Healthcare’sbase campat the Cape Cod National Seashore in Eastham for a “mini-consult” with a nurse or physical therapist.

“If our folks are concerned in any way, they’ll say, ‘You should confer with your primary care physician before you start,’ or ‘You don’t have a lot of risk factors. You’re somebody who looks like you could start right now.”

The Healthy Parks, Healthy People registration tent is located in front of the Salt Pond Visitor Center at the corner of Route 6 and Nauset Road in Eastham and is open 8a.m. to 11 a.m. every Monday through Friday.

There are many ways a regular walking/jogging routine can benefit you, according to Drake.

“It keeps your heart strong,” she said. “If you’re exercising regularly, it’s much easier to lower or maintain your weight and your blood pressure. Overall functional activities are much easier if you’re at a healthy weight and a higher level of fitness. Mentally it gives you a boost each time you go out and exercise.”

A downloadable PDF of theCouch to 5K Training Programoutlines three workouts a week for nine weeks. And if you’re ready to try a community 5K event when you feel up to it, and/or are cleared by your doctor, there’s a schedule of upcoming 5K run/walk events.

By BILL O’NEILL, Cape Cod Health News

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