The Swedes invented it and the rest of the world is catching on. The term “plogging” is coined from the English word “jogging” and “plocka upp,” a Swedish term that means “picking up.” Plogging is the Swedish fitness trend that combines jogging while picking up trash. Besides plogging, there are variations of activity derived from it, such as “taking a palk” (plogging walk) or a “pike” (plogging hike). No matter which activity you choose, the idea is that you do some kind of outdoor exercise while picking up litter or trash along the way.
According to the Swedish-based fitness app Lifesum, which makes it possible for users to track plogging activity, a half-hour of jogging plus picking up trash will burn 288 calories for the average person, compared with 235 burned by jogging alone. A brisk walk will expend about 120 calories.1
It’s taken a few years to catch on outside of Sweden, but plogging is making waves in the fitness world right now. As more people become aware of the need to contribute personally to the well-being of the environment, plogging is taking off because it combines attention to fitness with supporting a great cause.
As Mike Rosen, spokesman for Keep America Beautiful, explains, “I don’t think plogging replaces jogging as a daily activity. If you turn your jog into a plog once a week or once a month, or turn your walk into a palk or your hike into pike, you’ll get personal satisfaction. You’ll have an endorphin high from running, and you’ll know you’re helping your community.”2
Swedish native Erik Ahlström, who created the website http://www.plogga.se,3 says that all you need for plogging is a pair of gloves and a recyclable bag. He summarizes the benefits of plogging in four major areas:
- Health and exercise: According to the Karolinska Institutet, the risk of depression, obesity, and cancer among people who are seated a lot and are physically inactive doubles for both adults and children. Plogging helps to get the body moving while adding some extra moves like squatting or bending when picking up trash.
- Combat Plastic Pollution: The litter that nobody bothers to pick up will eventually end up in rivers and oceans. Plogging helps decrease the litter from ending up in waterways and killing our marine life.
- Save Wildlife: When we litter, wildlife suffers. For example, turtles and other marine mammals get entangled in plastic bags or plastic cutlery. Seabirds also get trapped by our plastic waste.
- Reduced Social Costs: In 2015, the costs of cleaning public spaces from litter decreased by SEK 2 billion in Sweden. Collective efforts like plogging that help keep public spaces clean indirectly save the city’s cost.
Approximately 2,000,000 people are plogging each and every day worldwide.4 Jogging while picking up litter has become a multitasking phenomenon that will work out the entire body while edifying the community. It’s an ingenious way to boost not only our cardiovascular health but also the health of our planet.
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