What is Plogging and Why Should You Try It?

As a runner, you’ve probably seen trash scattered across sidewalks, trails, and on the side of the road. Most people pass right by it and continue with their run—but what if you stopped to pick it up?

That’s the idea behind plogging, the new fitness craze that’s sweeping the country. What is plogging? It’s a portmanteau of “jogging” and “plocka upp,” a Swedish term meaning pick up.

Plogging benefits not only the environment, but also your mind and body as well. Here is everything you need to know about this eco-friendly workout:

There are plenty of good reasons to start plogging. Whether you’re plogging solo or with a group, you’re doing the community, the environment, and your body a world of good.

Origin of Plogging

The concept of picking up trash while on a run isn’t new. Many of us personally know a runner or two who can’t help but stop mid-run to pick up an empty beer can or candy wrapper.

However, the eco-friendly fitness craze is said to have started in Sweden. This is unsurprising, given that Sweden is one of the most eco-friendly countries in the world.

Plogging first became popular in Sweden in 2016 when groups of runners would come together and pick up litter while they ran. The activity eventually made its way over to the U.S. with the help of social media.

Why You Should Start Plogging

There are plenty of good reasons to start plogging. Whether you’re plogging solo or with a group, you’re doing the community, the environment, and your body a world of good.

You’ll get a better workout. If you’re worried that stopping to pick up trash will hinder your workout, rest assured that the opposite is true. In fact, squatting to pick up trash can help you burn more calories than running on its own.

This is backed by data from Lifesum, a health app which allows users to log their plogging workouts. In partnership with Keep America Beautiful, a nonprofit dedicated to litter prevention, Lifesum conducted a study and found that plogging for 30 minutes burns 288 calories for the average user.

Littering is a significant problem. Trash isn’t just an eyesore—it also harms the planet and the animals who inhabit it. By picking up a plastic bottle or two on your run, you can help preserve ecosystems, reduce the amount of waste going into landfills, and even prevent accidents caused by road debris.

It’s a fun social activity. Plogging originated with a group of runners who wanted to be social while they ran and cleaned up the environment. Sure, you don’t need to plog alone, but plogging in a group is surprisingly fun. Plus, you’ll pick up more trash and make a bigger impact.

Related: 3 Pro Tips to Run Better

Plogging Tips

Ready to hit the trail with your trash bag? Before you start plogging, here are a few quick tips:

Safety first. Stay safe while you plog by taking certain precautions. Be sure to wear the right fitness wear, including gloves, reflective running safety belt, and long running pants or tights. It’s also important to avoid dangerous litter such as syringes or razor blades. If you see these items, call the non-emergency line of your local police department.

Meal Prep

Keep your items secure while you run. Carrying around a big trash bag is difficult enough without juggling your phone, keys, and water bottle as well. With a running phone holder, you can keep your items safe and secure while you run.

Set a goal. Give yourself a challenge by setting a goal. For instance, set a goal to pick up 50 cans on your run. It may sound like a lot, but you’ll be surprised at how quickly your bag fills up.

Plog on the beach. According to the National Ocean Service, as much as 80 percent of ocean pollution comes from the land. Picking up trash along the shores will not only help reduce ocean pollution, but it’s also a great workout.

Great for the environment as well as the body, it’s difficult to see any downside to plogging. However, there will be some runners who won’t find plogging to their liking.

For many, running is a form of meditation, and picking up trash can disrupt their concentration. If this is you, don’t feel bad. There are plenty of volunteer cleanup opportunities that you can do outside of your regular workouts.

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