New Exercise Trend Also Helps Environment

10 December, 2018

From VOA Learning English, this is the Health & Lifestyle report.

For some people, walking or running outdoors is a great way to exercise. What may not be so great is seeing trash all over the ground.

Well, some people are doing something about it.

They are plogging!

Which is great.

But what is it?

"Plogging" began in Sweden. The name combines the Swedish word "plocka," which means to pick up, and the word "jogging," which means to run slowly.

A Swedish man named Erik Ahlström, started the movement in 2016. On the World Environment Day website, Ahlström says that he moved to Stockholm from a small community in northern Sweden. Each day he would ride his bike to work. He says he became concerned about the amount of trash and litter he saw each day on his way to work. So, he took matters into his own hands. He began picking up the trash.

And that is how plogging was born!

Plogging, by that term, may have officially begun Sweden. But many people who exercise outdoors have been doing this for years.

Take Jeff Horowitz, for example. He is a personal trainer in Washington, D.C. He says that he would often pick up trash while running outside. He even turned it into a game; he would try to pick up the trash without stopping.

"I didn't know it was a thing, really. This is just my personal ethics, where I would go for a run and if I happen to see a piece of garbage [laying] around and it's within reach -- it was a kind of a little test for me to see if I can grab it and throw it in a near trash can without stopping. And that way, I thought, it gave me a little exercise and a little focus for my run. And it helped clean up the neighborhood. And then I come to find out that this has become an international movement and there are people all around the world doing this."

Today, plogging is an official activity, one that is becoming more and more popular.

People of all ages are welcome to plog. (Photo Credit: Jeff Horowitz)
People of all ages are welcome to plog. (Photo Credit: Jeff Horowitz)

Exercise while helping your community

Plogging is equal parts exercise and community service. As Julie Lawson explains, it can also build closer social connections in a community. Lawson works at Washington, D.C.'s Office of the Clean City.

"When the street looks bad and it's dirty, you're going to feel bad about the neighborhood, about the community. (You) may even feel less safe because of that. So if we're all doing our part and picking it up, it's very easy to help beautify it, help build those social connection. You get to know your neighbors. You get to feel some social responsibility and community feel when you do this."

Plogging can be fun, too. When Dana Allen goes plogging around D.C., she invites her friends. And they make a day of it.

"Sometimes we get groups together on a Saturday or Sunday. We go for run. We pick up some garbage. Then we'll actually go for brunch after. We kind of make a little bit of event of it."

Although Allen enjoys plogging, she says she does not do it all the time. When she is training for a serious marathon race, the trash has to wait.

"When I'm training seriously for a marathon, I probably wouldn't be as inclined to stop regularly - when I'm running - because I'm focusing on a certain goal. But then there are other days, where I'm out and into sort of a more relaxed running and just having fun and that would be a situation where I might be more inclined to do it."

Cities around the world now hold plogging events. The goal is to spread the idea that littering is not acceptable.

Allen hopes one day there will not be a need for plogging.

"I would just hope people would think twice before dropping a garbage on the ground. We have receptacles ... seems on every block. So, it's easy to put your garbage in the trash cans. I just think people should think about it a little bit more."

Along with cleaning up the environment, there may be another reason to choose plogging instead of just jogging. You may get a better workout.

One fitness app, Lifesum, records one hour of plogging as burning 288 calories. Usual jogging burns about 235 calories.

Ready. Set. Plog!

Getting ready to plog is similar to getting ready to jog. Ploggers do some deep knee bends, or squats, as well as some balancing exercises.

Then, ploggers do something most regular joggers do not do: They put on protective gloves.

"Gloves are important. You want to make sure that this is going to be healthy for you. ... You never know what you'll find. It might be broken glass, medical waste."

There are other safety rules for plogging. The main one is to plog in areas where there are not too many other ploggers. This helps to prevent plogging accidents.

Ploggers must always pay attention to those around them. Stopping quickly in front of someone to pick up an empty bag of potato chips, for example, could cause a crash.

And that's the Health & Lifestyle report. I'm Anna Matteo.

Faiza Elmasry reported this story for VOA News in Washington. Anna Matteo adapted it for Learning English with additional information. Ashley Thompson was the editor.


Words in This Story

litter n. things that have been thrown away and that are lying on the ground in a public place

to take matters into your own hands idiom : to do something oneself instead of waiting for other people to do something

make a day of it – phrase : spend a whole day to an activity, especially an enjoyable one : also, make a night of it; make a weekend of it; make an event of it

garbage n. discarded or useless material

brunch n. a meal usually taken late in the morning that combines a late breakfast and an early lunch

marathon n. a long-distance race

inclined adj. having a desire

focus v. to cause to be concentrated

relaxed adj. set or being at rest or at ease

calorie n. a unit of heat used to indicate the amount of energy that foods will produce in the human body

gloves n. a covering for the hand having separate sections for each of the fingers and the thumb and often extending part way up the arm