FITNESS fanatics will be pleased to hear that Reading, Wokingham and Slough have been named as the best towns in the UK for running.

Whether it's a New Year's resolution to complete Couch to 5k, a way of killing time and getting fit during lockdown, or lifelong hobby - if you live in one of the three Berkshire towns, you have an advantage.

Research by running specialists Runners Need analysed lifestyle factors and trends that impact outdoor running and exercise, such as local crime rates, air pollution, traffic data, the amount of public parks and gardens and more.

READ MORE: The SIX areas in Reading with the highest Covid case rates

The company also created an interactive tool which allows users to easily input their location and see how it ranks against other UK towns for the best places to run outdoors.

Reading Chronicle:

The interactive tool by Runners Need shows how each town ranks with factors that impact on running

Andrew Wood, head of marketing at Runners Need, said: "Runners Need have continued to grow both online and on the high street with the introduction of 10 new retail locations in 2020.

"Given the unprecedented nature of the last year, we anticipate that running will continue to rise in 2021, and we have big ambitions to deliver more Runners Need stores across the UK to serve the running community.

"We're thrilled to have welcomed so many new runners into our community in 2020—from established runners, to runners who hadn’t put on a pair of running shoes before and are now training for their first 5K—and because we anticipate outdoor exercise and running to continue rising, we created this tool to make it fun and easy for our community to see how their city fares as a running destination."

The findings can help residents better understand their own towns and what they offer for outdoor running and exercise, as well as help park run and race organisers determine the best parts of the UK to host their next event.

As many gyms and leisure centres remained closed and people continue to practice social distancing, people will continue to opt for exercise outdoors when possible.

READ MORE: Lidl and Aldi middle aisles: What's available from Sunday, January 10?

According to a survey, running outdoors in the UK increased by 731,000 participants in 2020, a rise of 1.5 per cent.

Since stay-at-home measures were introduced in March 2020, and a 92 per cent increase in downloads of the Couch to 5K app were seen between March and the end of June 2020 (more than 858,000 downloads compared to 448,000 over the same period in 2019.