Plogging: Eco-Friendly Fitness

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Unsplash/Manny Becerra

Plogging – picking up litter while jogging – has become a popular new eco-friendly fitness craze. This common pastime began in Sweden as an organized activity and has recently begun catching on in other countries across the world. The word plogging fuses ‘plocka’ and ‘jogga’, meaning ‘picking (up)’ and ‘jogging’ in Swedish. The founder of this spontaneous movement is said to be the 57-year-old Swede Erik Ahlström. Moving back to Stockholm after having lived in the north of Sweden, Erik felt that there was a lot more litter on the streets than he previously remembered. Thus, he began his initiative to clean his community that caught on rapidly.

Not only does this new pastime combine jogging with picking up litter, but it also turns it into a community event or a social gathering. Therefore, plogging has many added health benefits, including overall fitness, social wellbeing, and improved environmental quality. It can even be a more effective form of exercise than jogging alone. As a workout, it involves variations in body movement, such as bending, squatting, and stretching in addition to the main act of running. According to data from the fitness app Lifesum, one hour of plogging burns 288 calories on average compared to 235 calories on average for plain old jogging. So by plogging not only will participants get an excellent workout, but also the added benefit that their local communities are simultaneously being cleaned.

Plogging has also become increasingly popular in social media, with many participants posting their collected trash and litter. Numerous ploggers are shocked at just how much trash can be collected in a short run, and even more post mid-run to encourage others to come join in. In Instagram alone, the exercise has been tagged in over 3,000 posts and many communities are creating Facebook groups dedicated to the organized activity. In fact, the Keep America Beautiful organization has begun promoting plogging to its affiliates and discovered that several had already created similar programs, such as the Trashercize program in Tennessee.

Most people do not have to look far to find areas that could use a good clean up, but if scenery is a concern, then consider visiting one of your local State Parks to do a good deed. Pack a picnic, bring a trash bag and some gloves and make a day out of it. There are plenty of trails to visit, and even the main roads could use some good litter removal. Bring some friends or your kids along, organize a community group, partner with the park’s Friends Group, or find a local Keep Tennessee Beautiful group to get involved. With June 2nd approaching, now would be an excellent time to honor National Trails Day and participate in a trail clean up run. Visit here to find your trail for National Trail Day, or here to find the closest park to you.

With so many opportunities to improve your health and your home, there is no reason not to torch some calories and tidy up the planet. So next time you are out on a jog or visiting your local park, try picking up some trash while you are at it. It will really pay off for both your body and the environment.

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