From reaching for stainless steel drinking straws to opting for reusable canvas totes, environmental consciousness has grown considerably lately. It’s a trend that’s even making its way into fitness with plogging—a Swedish-born fitness craze started by environmentalist Erik Ahlstrom gaining in popularity around the globe.
Plogging is the act of picking up litter while running—the name combines the Swedish term “plokka upp,” which means “to pick up,” and “jogging.” The goal of the exercise: To pick up trash along your route and help offset the amount of garbage winding up in oceans (a whopping 8 million tons of plastic according to the Ocean Conservancy).
Not only is plogging a simple way to contribute to the beautification of your community, it can help you get more from your run, too. Here, are three good reasons bring a (reusable!) trash bag on your next run.
1. Plogging Brings Awareness to Your Runs
You might not think the area you live in has a trash issue, but looking for waste could be eye opening. “Being more aware while running is helpful in exercising mindfulness, something that makes runs go by faster and helps you focus less on discomfort,” says Erin Olivo, PhD, MPH. In addition to helping you mentally connect with your movement, plogging can make you more mindful of your neighborhood. Litter doesn’t typically stay where it lands, and seeing how the trash in your community is causing buildup in sewer systems or affecting wildlife can help you be more thoughtful about waste disposal.
Fit Tip: Plogging in an especially trash-strewn area? Sprint to and from each piece you pick up. Or up the cross-training ante by tadding in some bodyweight moves: do walking lunges on your way to the trash receptacle and bear crawl back.
2. Plogging Gives Purpose to Your Miles
When long distance runs start to feel endless, you can use the distraction of plogging to your advantage. In a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, researchers found that mental fatigue can lead to the perception of physical fatigue long before your body is actually tired. Switching your mind’s focus to spotting trash can keep you from thinking about how tired your legs are, or how much further you have to go.
Fit Tip: Try plogging on easy recovery runs, when slower pacing and stopping to grab garbage won’t trip up your training.
3. Plogging Makes Everyone a Hero—Even Little Ones! e
The next time you’re getting in steps as a family or strapping your kiddos into the jogging stroller, give everyone a trash bag to fill. Plogging can keep everyone entertained, and help the environment, too.
Fit Tip: Teach kids to avoid picking up anything sharp, consider wearing gloves when you head out, and be sure to wash your hands when you’re done. Most trash isn’t inherently dirty, but you don’t want to risk getting hurt or ill while doing good for the planet. Always practice safety first and exercise caution while plogging.
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.