County Durham’s residents are being encouraged to make a healthy start to the New Year – with a programme that can take people new to exercise and get them running five kilometres in just five weeks.

Durham County Council’s popular Couch to 5K courses are aimed at people looking to boost their fitness or get back into running.

The five-week courses – which are free – start with a mixture of running and walking. Each session lasts for around 45 minutes and includes a warm-up and cool-down. All runs take place along safe, risk-assessed routes.

It is hoped that the participants will gradually build up their stamina and be able – by the end of the course – to complete a five-kilometre run.

More than 60 Couch to 5K graduates recently took part in a run in Chester-le-Street Riverside Park, raising £189 for the North East Air Ambulance Service in the process.

The runners had attended courses in Durham City, Leadgate, Stanley and Pity Me.

New courses will begin at the following locations this week:

  • Monday 8th January: Coundon Community Fitness Suite, Grey Gardens – 6.00 pm
  • Monday 8th January: Riverside Sports Pavilion, Chester-le-Street – 6.00 pm
  • Thursday 11th January: Blackhall Community Centre, Hesleden Road, Easington – 1.30 pm
  • Thursday, 11th January: Seaham Harbour Marina Activity Centre – 5.30 pm
  • Wednesday 21st February: Peases West Sports Centre, Roddymoor, Crook – 6.00 pm

Durham County Council’s cabinet member for tourism, culture, leisure and rural issues, Cllr Ossie Johnson, said, “The Couch to 5K initiative is fantastic. It’s made a lot of inactive people more enthusiastic about physical activity, which is great to see as it is a brilliant boost to physical and mental wellbeing.”

To learn more about the Couch to 5K programme, please go to

If running isn’t quite your thing, a walking programme has also been launched with the aim of getting more people active in the New Year.

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