My ears perked up when I heard Nat, one of our participants in the Young Women’s Program here at Green Mountain at Fox Run, excitedly exclaim she exceeded her Fitbit daily steps as a result of playing Pokémon Go. So naturally, I had to learn more!
What Is Pokémon Go?
Over 5 million players are using the Nintendo Smartphone game by walking around their local neighborhoods and landmarks to collect Pokémon, gain Pokéballs, and stop at “Gyms” to battle one another for supremacy.
The app provides an augmented reality, which means it is a virtual reality – the camera uses your real life surroundings and creates a digital window into the Pokémon world.
If you run out of capture balls and can’t find more, you can purchase them, which is why this “free” app is now one of the largest grossing.
Will Pokémon Go Help Me Become Fitter?
“I grew up with the franchise,” said Christina, a twenty-something participant. “I think the nostalgia aspect appeals to my age-group.” She smiles, “I found myself walking into town looking for Pokéstops. It ended up being six miles. I would never have walked that far before!”
Prior to downloading the app, exercise was never a priority for Christina. And I personally have seen her cardiovascular speed and endurance improve in the past few weeks on our hiking excursions.
With walking benefits including lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure, it’s hard to imagine this game wouldn’t help you physically.
Personally I feel I’d receive more reduction of stress and sleep benefits by taking a hike in nature, listening to birds chirping, and mindfully moving my body, rather than being distracted by a game. But that’s me.
Is it dangerous?
Despite warnings, people aren’t paying attention to their surroundings, and the list of accidents is increasing: a multitude of injuries including broken ankles and bruised shins, a girl getting hit by a car while crossing the highway, two men crawling over a fence and falling down a cliff in California, and even robberies of unsuspecting players who were too distracted by the game.
One of my concerns with people spending more time on their phone is they end up engaging less in interpersonal connections.
As a mother of two young children, I get concerned as to how technology will shape their relationships.
However, as a personal trainer, health coach and fitness enthusiast, I can’t help but find myself optimistic that this game will lead the way into a future of movement opportunities for those who otherwise would have been inactive.
Finding new and innovative ways to help others improve their health and fitness might be just what our society needs.