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It turns out that I’ve been plogging for years without knowing it or referring to it by its inarguably goofy name. And I definitely think more joggers should plog as I still do

Paul Smith

Lost and Found

Way, way back in Ye Olden Days when I was a wee lad, TV programs (which in my case meant a lot of Saturday morning cartoons and after school Million Dollar Movies) were then, as now, frequently interrupted by commercials. Most were intended to encourage in youthful hearts a lust for toys or to prop up the dental industry with tooth-rotting candies, sodas, and cereals. But every now and then you’d see a commercial that wasn’t really commercial at all. These were called Public Service Announcements, or PSAs, and several were truly memorable. In one, city kids were warned about the perils of jaywalking with a catchy jingle admonishing them not to “cross the street in the middle in the middle in the middle,” while we bumpkins out in the ‘burbs were scolded about fire safety by a talking bear wearing a hat and a pair of blue jeans.

Perhaps the most memorable, though, was a spot about the evils of littering.  It concluded with a shot of a Native American brave who in close-up is seen to shed a single, dignified tear as he sadly contemplates the rubbish-filled landscape. It must have made an impression on me because to this day I’m irritated by litter.

When I took up jogging as an adult, I was re-exposed at close range to the still-to-this-day persistent presence on our streets and sidewalks of the clutter of garbage scattered everywhere. Gutter-clutter, if you will. I developed the habit of periodically pausing in my run to pick up a discard and dispose of it properly in a trash receptacle, after which I would then pat myself on the back for being Earth-friendly and doing my civic duty (“doing my civic duty” is, in my case, modern-speak for “obsessive-compulsive disorder”).

One day recently I happened upon an article written by a jogging doctor about something called Plogging, a term formed by the joining of the Swedish (where the activity apparently originated) phrase meaning “picking up” and the word “jogging.” Plogging, basically, is this: as you jog, regularly pause to pick something up…ideally, litter. Not only will you leave the world a slightly cleaner place, but you will enjoy a health benefit. For when you stop jogging to bend down to pick up a plastic bottle, it interrupts the flow of your exercise. Plogging thus converts a normal jog into an interval workout. Numerous studies have demonstrated the benefits of interval training, including strengthening your heart, helping you lose weight, and giving you giant bursts of energy. The blogging doctor goes on in his article to propose the following regimen: Jog (or briskly walk) for about 3 minutes, then…take 2 minutes to pick up some recycling. Repeat the cycle two more times, running for 3 minutes and picking up for 2 minutes each time. There. You’ve completed a 15-minute plog.

Plogging Becomes “Clogging*”

Plogging, in my particular case, has sometimes led to the finding of non-litter objects. I can’t tell you how many earrings I’ve spotted (dozens and dozens –  I guess I can tell you). You gals must be losing them constantly. The guy who lost the sterling silver Tiffany & Co. cuff link ($300.00 for the pair) was probably pissed when he realized it was gone. Here’s a five-inch dagger, forged of surgical steel and in its original black leather scabbard (see above); there’s a large brass “Acapulco Gold” belt buckle with a cannabis frond in relief and inscribed with the legend “Available Everywhere” (see below). Who exactly is losing this stuff, and in the case of the buckle, who is acquiring it in the first place? Evidence of the fact that folks are often careless or unlucky with their possessions is everywhere out there.

There’s Gold on them there streets!

So it turns out that I’ve been plogging for years without knowing it or referring to it by its inarguably goofy name. And I definitely think more joggers should plog as I still do. They’d be physically and karmically rewarded, the Earth would be pleased, and that Native American brave could finally turn off the waterworks and weep no more.

*collecting while jogging

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About the Author

Paul Smith

Paul Smith

Paul Smith manages marketing and member communications for Fitness Incentive and Incentives Organic Spa & Salon. He is a frequent contributor to Fit to Print.

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