Pokémon Go Health Benefits More Pronounced in Certain Populations

Researchers have found that the game increases physical activity in those not normally inclined to exercise
Researchers have found that the game increases physical activity in those not normally inclined to exercise

HealthDay News — Pokémon Go players are twice as likely to walk 10,000 steps a day than they were before taking up the game, according to a study presented at the American Heart Association's Epidemiology and Prevention/Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health 2017 Scientific Sessions, held from March 7 to 10 in Portland, Ore.

Hanzhang Xu, a graduate student at the Duke University School of Nursing in Durham, N.C., and colleagues recruited 167 iPhone users playing Pokémon Go. The participants were asked to report their daily steps as tracked by the iPhone Health app between June 15 and July 31, 2016. 

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Before taking up Pokémon Go, participants walked an average of 5,678 steps a day. Their daily steps increased to 7,654 after starting the game, an average increase of 1,976 steps each day, the researchers found. The percentage of days upon which players met their 10,000 daily step goal nearly doubled after they began playing Pokémon Go, increasing from 15.3 to 27.5 percent. Overweight or sedentary people appeared to benefit most from the game, Xu told HealthDay.

The success of Pokémon Go shows that such "augmented reality" games could be key in making physical activity fun for those not normally inclined to exercise, Xu concluded. "Lack of enjoyment and lack of time are the most common reasons for not being physically active," she said. Mobile games incorporating physical activity may provide an alternative way to promote physical activity.

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