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Plogging – The New Fitness Trend from Sweden

Are you ready to go plogging?
Want to go plogging?

In honor of Earth Day this year, you might consider combining fitness with a little environmental involvement. There’s an activity many people have always done, but now there’s a name for it. Plogging; picking up trash while jogging.

The word originated with the Swedish words plocka, which means “to pick” and jogga, which means “jog.” The Swedes call it plogga. The Americanized version of the word is plogging, which I like to describe as a mashup of “PLucking the trash while jOGGING.”

Plogging as a defined activity, first appeared in Sweden around 2016 and has been spreading rapidly on social media. You may also hear it referred to as “trashercize.” Yes, it’s something that many runners and joggers have been doing for decades, but if you make it trendy and add a twitter hashtag, more people might get involved.

There are at least two immediate benefits. The first is the most obvious, you’re getting trash picked up and recycled or disposed of properly. Think about what a profound change such a small action could create. According to statista.com, as of spring 2017, more than 65 million people jogged or ran the previous 12 months. If only one person in ten picked up just a pound, that would result in 3,250 TONS of trash getting cleaned up.

The second is engaging more muscles in a run, especially if you do deep knee bends each time you pick up something. Depending on how you pick things up, you can also incorporate squats and stretches into your program.

Some claim the extra weight of the trash you’re carrying will burn more calories, but I wouldn’t count on that. Most people won’t pick up that much garbage or things that are heavy enough to make much of a difference.  

I prefer doing intervals when I run. Those are intense bursts of activity for one to four minutes, followed by walking until your heart rate drops. It’s one of the best ways to run for fat burning and muscle building. An interval program is also ideally suited for plogging. Every time you walk during your recovery phase, you can do deep knee bends or squats to grab some trash.

Plogging may even help you get into better shape than just jogging. According to the Swedish-based fitness tracker Lifesum, a 180-pound man will burn 381 calories in 30 minutes of jogging. However, that same person will burn 466 calories in 30 minutes of plogging. That’s a bonus 85 extra calories melting away just for doing something good.

There are a few things you need to consider. The first is what type of trash you’re going to be picking up. On one run you might want to just grab recyclable things, so they can be put into a recycling bin when you’re finished. The next run you could focus on pure trash items, like cigarette butts and food wrappers. Trying to juggle a couple of different bags and separating trash while running, may be a bit too much.  

You also should protect yourself from germs. Wear gloves so you’re not grabbing the trash with your bare hands. Reusable or recyclable gloves are both available.

If you don’t want gloves, consider getting a grabber or reacher tool. Your hands never make contact with rubbish and they’re great for anyone that can’t bend that well. You can still do deep knee bends with a grabber, you just have to do it a little further away from whatever you’re picking up. A grabber is also easy to sanitize when you’re finished using it.

If you’re interested in learning about more ways to improve your environment, here are some great websites that can help. I recommend Clean Trails (www.cleantrails.org), Earth Day Network (www.earthday.org) and Keep America Beautiful (www.kab.org).

Don’t wait to do something for your community and the environment just one day a year. Help yourself and the planet, by plogging on your next run.

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