Pokémon Go or Stop? Long-Term Exercise Trends Examined for VR Game

HealthDay News — Pokémon Go provided a slight, short-term boost to adults’ physical activity levels, but it didn’t last, according to a study published in the Christmas issue of The BMJ.

Katherine B. Howe, a doctoral candidate at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues conducted an online survey of 1,182 smartphone users, ages 18 to 35, during August 2016. The researchers found that 47.4% of the respondents played the game at “trainer level,” which is reached after walking around for about two hours. 

Players’ average daily steps in the first week of using the game increased by 955. That translates into 11 minutes of additional walking daily, bringing participants’ total to about half of the World Health Organization’s recommendation of 150 or more minutes weekly. But, the number of steps gradually decreased over the following five weeks. By the sixth week, the players’ numbers had returned to where they were before they started playing the game.

“Our results indicate that the health impact of Pokémon Go might be moderate,” the authors write. “Even if smaller amounts of physical activity might also be important for health outcomes, the increase in steps from Pokémon Go, as with many physical activity interventions, was not sustained over time.”

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