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Maja Tesch plogging in Stockholm.


Have you recently spotted people toting trash bags while jogging? Or their hands filled with old plastic bottles? You might soon.

Sweden’s latest fitness craze — plogging — is making its way to U.S. shores. The term is a mash-up of jogging and the Swedish “plocka upp,” meaning pick up. In this case, litter.

Across Europe, there are plogging groups in Scandinavia, Germany and beyond. In the United States, it’s just starting to catch on among exercisers who are fed up with rubbish along their route.

“I’m not going to just let litter sit there. I’m not going to just walk past that plastic bottle,” said plogger and Alexandria, Va., resident Emily Wright.

Plogging not only helps the environment, it’s quite good for your health. Think squats while jogging.

According to the Swedish-based fitness app Lifesum, which earlier this month made 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 the 235 burned by jogging alone. A brisk walk will expend about 120.

In Sweden, plogger Maja Tesch, 28, said she learned about plogging last year, when it became popular in the Scandinavian country. It spread through word-of-mouth, and the hashtag #plogging started popping up on social media. Tesch, a nurse, said she regularly organizes plogging events in which she and friends will pluck litter for a few hours, then spend time hanging outside together around a fire.

“I run a lot and I love to spend time in nature. When I find litter out in the woods or in the archipelago it makes me sad and a bit angry. When I heard about plogging it was a natural way to do something about that agitation,” Tesch said in an email. “It’s so easy to just bring the litter and put it in the nearest bin, and it makes you feel that you’re doing a difference!”

Laura Lindberg, who lives in Hoboken, New Jersey, said a few weeks ago she learned about plogging and had what she called an “aha moment.”

“It was a no-brainer. I knew I could incorporate it into my runs,” said Lindberg, 36, who runs four or five days a week. “I suddenly felt guilty for not doing it for all these years I’ve been running. All you need is a bag.”

She also takes along a pair of gardening gloves she stuffs into her pocket.

“I try to get in my first mile while I scope out where I see recyclables and garbage,” she said. On her second and third miles, she plucks litter off sidewalks and bushes.

The environmental organization Keep America Beautiful recently started promoting plogging as a way to encourage trash-free communities.

“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,” said spokesman Mike Rosen. “You’ll have an endorphin high from running, and you’ll know you’re helping your community.”


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