The sight of a dozen joggers running through the streets with bags full of garbage might be unusual to some but across Europe and Asia, fitness buffs are learning how to protect the environment, while getting their morning run in.
They are combining their two passions into what is now considered the latest fitness craze: Picking up litter while out jogging, or plogging.
There’s certainly no downside to picking up litter, but plogging also makes for a fantastic workout. In fact, 30 minutes of plogging burns almost the same number of calories as regular jogging would. Combined with the emotional satisfaction of protecting the planet and, plogging might just be the ultimate fitness activity!
What is Plogging?
A portmanteau of “plocka upp,” the Swedish verb for “to pick up,” and “jogging,” plogging was born in Sweden in 2016. Erik Ahlström is credited to have started the plogging revolution when he moved from Åre, Sweden to Stockholm. Frustrated by the amount of litter he saw in the big city, he gathered a group of people to pick up the litter they found while out running.
Since then, the trend has begun to spread globally. Plogging groups have cropped up in France, the UK, and Thailand, and the #Plogging tag is increasing in popularity both on Instagram and Twitter.
And there’s a good reason why it’s become such a fitness craze. Plogging combines the cardio of jogging with squats, stretches, and other controlled movements required to pick up trash and protect the environment. It’s a full-body workout!
Plogging checks all the boxes for a healthy lifestyle. Spending time outside, especially in natural settings, has been shown to boost the immune system and lower stress. The running and picking up of trash gets you moving and training your muscles. Picking up litter also offers a psychological boost; cleaning a dirty space feels good no matter where you are!
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, plogging is one of many effective ways to repair the damage human activity has done to the planet in recent centuries. The litter you find can be sorted and recycled for an even bigger environmental boost.
Start Plogging and Protect the Environment
The good news is that plogging is an incredibly accessible workout that anyone can work into their daily exercise routine. It requires no fancy equipment and It can be done anywhere outside in almost any kind of weather.
Here’s what you’ll need
- A good pair of walking or running shoes. You’re going to spend a lot of time working your feet and legs, so you better make sure they’re comfortable and well-supported!
- Something to hold the rubbish you find. Any plastic garbage bag will do, but some people use totes or drawstring bags that are easier to carry and can be reused.
- Sturdy gloves. You’re dealing with garbage that could potentially carry harmful germs or otherwise be dangerous to handle. Safety first!
We also recommend wearing long-sleeved workout clothes if you’re going to pick up litter in parks or forests, as being in tall grass and brush can leave you exposed to tics or dangerous plants like poison ivy or thorny bushes.
Some other things that can make your plogging experience even better include:
- Friends! Plenty of ploggers go out on their own but plogging was founded by a group! Gather some friends or interested locals to traverse the neighborhood; some friendly competition might even make you work harder!
- Music. Get something upbeat and exciting that will get you motivated and moving.
• Water. If you can’t or don’t carry a water bottle with you while you’re out, be sure to stay hydrated by other means!
- Snacks. Especially if you’re going to be out for a while, consider bringing a high-protein snack to keep you fueled while you work. Be sure to wash your hands before eating!
- Hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes. To keep your hands clean, of course!
Not a runner? No worries! People have plogged while walking, bicycling, hiking, and even paddle boarding! You can even walk your pets and pick up trash along the way. The point is to get outside, get moving, and protect the environment by making the Earth just a little less messy.