Plogging – An Environmentally Friendly Way to Stay in Shape

I recently stumbled upon a workout called plogging, or simply picking up trash while jogging. While this idea may sound ridiculous, it is an excellent environmentally friendly way to reach your health goals. If you ever notice one of your favorite run routes has litter around it, take a trash bag with you next time you go for a run. Every time you notice a piece of trash, squat down to pick it up. The more trash you pick up, the more squats you complete. Not only will your legs and glutes be more toned than if you completed a normal jog, but the Earth will be a cleaner more beautiful place because of your plog.

Here are some tips to having a better plog:

  1. Instead of carrying around a trash bag, line a small backpack with a trash bag and throw all of your trash in the backpack.
  2. Meet with a group and run in different directions around a park. Give a time frame to meet back at the starting point. Whoever has the most trash collected at the end wins. The more miles run usually will mean the more trash you will aquire.
  3. Switch up your plogging location. While a nature trail may need some trash picked up every few weeks, running there every day will be unlikely to provide the trash you would need to get your daily dose of squats.
  4. Conduct a different type of exercise for each type of trash you pick up. Cigarette butts are worth 5 squats, water bottles are worth 5 push ups, and fast food containers are worth 10 sit-ups. Feel free to make your own roster of what trash equals what type of exercise. Be careful of traffic when stopping to conduct an exercise during your plog.

What other ways can you think of that can make plogging or other types of exercise fun and environmentally friendly? Comment below!

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The Mountains are Calling Part 1: Increasing your Hiking Fitness during the Off-Season

The mountains are calling, the sands are beckoning, but you’re worried the unbeaten path is going to beat you. That’s fine because you have time to train and build up to your hikes. Whether you are preparing for a 2000 mile thru-hike or a 5-mile day hike, there are tips and tricks you can use to increase your hiking fitness before you hit the trail.

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Depending on your local climate and your preferred type of hiking, you likely have a part of the year where hiking ends for a few months. You can use this time to work on general health and fitness, which will ultimately prepare you for your next hike!

First, I want to discuss the training schedule of athletes. Regardless of what sport an athlete is training for, there is often a difference in training between off-season and the in-season. During the off-season, athletes often focus more generally on their fitness, while as the season gets closer they tend to focus more on sport specific fitness. For example, a cyclist during the off-season may be in the gym weight lifting more often to build leg and core strength before they go back to cycling every day to prepare for the season. We can do the same thing for hiking. During winter when you are likely not out hiking, you can prepare for the season by practicing general fitness. Here are some ways you can prepare for the hiking season by improving your overall fitness:

Resistance Training: The off-season is a great time to strengthen your legs, hips, core, back, and shoulders. Weight lifting to strengthen your upper body can help you carry the loads of a heavy pack. If you’ve ever finished a hike and your shoulders and back were very sore, you can help prevent that by strengthening these muscles before you hit the trail. Also, strengthening your legs and hips will greatly improve how you feel during a hike. Hills will become no problem with a strong set of calves and quads.

Calisthenics: While resistance training will build strength, calisthenics will build muscular endurance. Better muscular endurance will keep your muscles running efficiently throughout even the longest hikes. By doing squats, lunges, leg lifts, crunches, push-ups, calf-raises, and other calisthenics of your choice, you will prepare your muscles for extended periods of stress which is what you experience while hiking.

Walking/Jogging: By walking and jogging during the off season you will help keep your body adapted for walking long distances, and you will improve your cardiovascular endurance.

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Trail mix is a great energy providing food for when you’re on the trail, but during the off-season, you may need to scale back on the amount of high calorie and processed foods that you eat.

Nutrition: What you eat during the off-season shouldn’t be what you eat while on the trail. Trail food is often high in calories, fat, sugar, and sodium which helps you maintain energy on the trail. During the off-season try to eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats. There is nothing better for off-season hikers than eating unprocessed fresh foods. They usually have low sodium, no trans-fats, and ample dietary fiber as opposed to their processed counterparts. As a hiker, if it comes packaged try not to eat it during the off-season. Your health will thank you since once hiking season comes around, packaged processed foods are almost all you will be eating while on the trail. A 10-mile hike will burn over 1000 calories, so if you eat as much as you eat on the trail while off the trail, you will begin to gain weight.

Weight Control: This brings us to weight control. During the off-season stay fit and skinny. As a hiker, you’re always looking for ways to reduce the amount of weight in your pack. Turns out one of the best ways to reduce your carried weight is to burn away your own fat. For some general tips for weight loss and weight control check out this article on weight loss basics.

The off-season is your time to work on your overall fitness and health. Once the hiking season begins to draw closer, you will want to start getting more specific with your training to prepare for your hikes. Stay tuned because next week we will discuss pre-season hiking fitness!

Author: Scott Van Hoy

Running: A Little Goes a Long Way

When I tell my friends I’m a distance runner, one of the most common reactions I get is a groan, and something along the lines of “you must be crazy to run that far/that much.” While my love of running has taken me to some of the sports’ longest races, I tell them that in order to reap the myriad benefits of running, you don’t need to do much of it. Incorporating running into your weekly routine can be easy and fun!

Today, I’ll look at ways you can incorporate running into your exercise routine and take a quick look at the Copenhagen Study, illustrating some health benefits of running just a few times a week.

Use running as a warm-up/cool down

More into lifting weights at the gym? Do you get bored on the treadmill? Running can still help you get more out of your workout. Running just two miles, even for the beginner, takes less than 20 minutes and gets your heart pumping before you begin your normal routine. This kickstarts your mind and body, helping you stay focused on your workout and burning more calories due to your increased heart rate. If you’re like me, after a while the run will motivate you to workout harder. If you’d rather save running for the end of your workout, running can be a great way to cap your workout. This way, you don’t have to worry about burning energy you may want to save for another activity. Plus, it feels great to walk out of the gym after a good hard run.

Run to/from the gym

If you’re not a fan of treadmills, this is an easy way to work running into your day. If it is safe and feasible, check out the Google Maps tool that allows you to get walking directions to your gym. This will keep you off busy roads and allow you to add miles easily. Plus, no need to worry about parking!

Use Media!

With a smartphone in every pocket and Wi-Fi at most gyms, there’s no reason to worry about getting bored on the treadmill. During the months I’m running on the treadmill, I may start a TV series I only watch while working out or find new artists to listen to while running. Having a show to watch makes a run a lot easier to look forward to.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

If steady-state cardio isn’t your cup of tea, try HIIT. This method of short bursts of very intense exercise will help you get running and burn tons of calories. It can be something as simple as ending a set of pushups and rolling directly into a 50 yard sprint and going back to your routine. Working these intervals will add a new dimension of intensity to your routine.

Finally, I’ll leave you with this excerpt of the Copenhagen Study from the American Running Association:

The Copenhagen City Heart Study, which started back in 1976, makes use of the Copenhagen Population Register and is a prospective cardiovascular study that boasts subjects of both genders totaling approximately 20,000. The youngest subjects are 20 years old, while the oldest are now 93 and counting. The goal three and a half decades ago was to increase understanding of the causes underlying heart disease and stroke. Since then it has yielded some 750 published research papers and expanded to include other diseases ranging from allergy to sleep apnea. The central idea continues to be discovering associations with longevity, and now they have done so for different forms of exercise.

“Jogging” is the term of choice here because, surprisingly, the researchers found the strongest link with longevity among people who ran at a “slow or average” pace for just one to two and a half hours per week.

The average lifespan increase for male subjects in this population of exercisers was 6.2 years; for women the increase was 5.6 years. The subjects were asked to self-report their pace as either slow, average, or fast. While this seems a fairly blunt instrument to measure workout intensity, it does suggest that people who run at an easy-to-moderate effort, several times a week, for just 30 minutes or more see real health benefits. As little as two half-hour easy runs per week appear to offer measurable improvements in life expectancy. Five easy runs per week at this duration puts you in the upper reaches of this optimal zone—this is hardly overtraining.

The mortality of 1,116 male joggers and 762 female joggers was compared to the non-joggers in the main study population. The first data was collected between 1976 and 1978, the second from 1981 to 1983, the third from 1991 to 1994, and the fourth from 2001 to 2003. Results showed that in the follow-up period involving a maximum of 35 years, 10,158 deaths were registered among the non-joggers and only 122 deaths among the joggers. Analysis showed that risk of death was reduced by 44% for both male and female joggers. 

(http://www.americanrunning.org/w/article/even-30-minutes-twice-a-week-can-lengthen-your-life, accessed 1DEC2016)

This is a guest post by Zackary A. Landers. Landers is an ultramarathoner who is always looking for ways to serve his community and help his friends on the path to better health.