Pokemon GO’s release resulted, for a while that is, in hordes of people milling around certain places, phones in front of their face, on the hunt for digital creatures. Some decried the game as a public nuisance, but many rose in defense of it, highlighting the fact that these individuals were out walking around rather than sitting at home on the sofa. A recent study from Kent State University researchers takes that observation to a new level, crunching the numbers to confirm that Pokemon GO does indeed promote a healthier lifestyle.
It has been a year since Pokemon GO was released and the game is still going strong. Unlike most mobile games, this one forces players not only to stand up and move around, but to actively walk to different locations. Many players report walking long distances throughout a day while on the hunt for Pokemon. To assess how much of an effect the game had on promoting exercise, researchers looked at the activity level of 350 college students.
These students first reported their level of sedentary/active behaviors throughout a week before downloading the Pokemon GO app, then they again reported their numbers after playing the game for a week, then once more after playing the agme for several weeks. In that first week after downloading the game, sedentary behaviors dropped by 25%, with the figure dropping to 18% after several weeks.
After having the game for several weeks, players had an average of 68% greater walking activity compared to before they started playing the game. This was despite the frequency with which they played the game dropping by an average of 58% after several weeks. The study serves to highlight that Pokemon GO — and other travel-based games like it — can be used to effectively promote physical activity among kids who otherwise may spend too much time sitting.