Plogging along

The latest happy innovation from Scandinavia, by way of France and Thailand, is ‘plogging’ – jogging while picking up litter. So what’s I all about and is it good for you? 

Evidently the term ‘plogging’ is of Swedish derivation from either plocka upp (pick up) or plocka skräp (pick up litter) and jogga (jog). The idea is that you pick up litter while out running and the activity has been growing in popularity in Sweden and it’s rapidly spreading over here. There are now even apps and dedicated health platforms that allow users to log and track plogging, while also promoting the initiative and encouraging users to #plogging on social media as they exercise and to get the full benefits.

Effectively it’s jogging with squats and it nicely marries two worlds: Tapping into an environmentally conscious public spirit to keep our streets clean and a desire to try and keep active, shed a few pounds a feel slightly less guilty as we binge drink at the weekend.

Local councils are no doubt keen to encourage us all to take part and save a few quid as we dispense with official street sweepers. Health experts agree that it’s very good for the body to combine running with squatting to lift rubbish.


Here’s just a few:

1. Stretching – for bags snagged in trees is another of plogging’s physical benefits – interval training of sorts as it combines a quick running step for short periods with focused lunges and squats. Interval training boosts endurance and burns more calories during and after a workout than normal running, improving fitness and fat burning for best results. Having to carry around a bag full of trash will help burn cals way quicker.

2. It’s as quick – a 10 to 20-minute plogg is great for getting the circulation going, so no time pressures – and no need to drive to an expensive gym.

3. Anyone can do it – mothers and children are doing it together and as it’s more gentle than some fitness regimes, it’s suited to people who have been inactive for some time, regardless of weight, size or gender

4. It’s less boring than a treadmill – you can set mini challenges for yourself en route. For example, rather than dump the rubbish you collected in the nearest bin, sprint off to the nearest recycling point and back.

5. Stress relief – plogging is a high-intensity activity, making it a great stress reliever. When you go for a run your heart rate accelerates and, as a result, your body releases chemical endorphins that elevate your mood. As well as releasing these feel-good endorphins, running is a form of exercise that requires less active thinking, allowing your mind to switch off. A big part of anxiety is being overwhelmed by too many thoughts, and if these thoughts are negative, the anxiety can switch over to a state of depression. Let go of the troublesome thoughts that may be weighing it down.

6. Getting outdoors – exercising outside instead of in a gym is great for getting both fresh air and some vitamin D (provided it’s not pouring rain!).

7. Grow confidence and self-esteem – part of the reason behind self-consciousness is a lack of control, so combining rubbish picking with running can offer a sense of control over your commute, neighbourhood and life, which in turn builds your confidence. Running and helping others, the community, and environment also produces endorphins, which is the body’s natural anti-depressant. These endorphins are hormones that block pain and encourage feelings of euphoria. In other words, these hormones can make you feel more energetic, alert and happier.

8. Community engagement – meet your neighbours and improve your local community.

9. Easy to get involved – all you need is a solid pair of running shoes and a sturdy recycling bag. It’s also a good idea to get some gloves or a little picker to help minimise contact with gems.