Pokemon GO’s 'fitness benefits' questioned

By YOU
16 December 2016

First it was the Nintendo Wii that kept us fit as we gamed, then came 2016’s biggest gaming fad, Pokemon GO. Since its launch in July 2016, the game has been downloaded over 500 million times worldwide, and while it got players off of their sofas as they walked the streets hunting for Pokemon characters using their smart phones, scientists from Harvard University showed the fitness effects were short lived.

The team of researchers conducted an online survey, questioning 1,182 participants, aged 18 to 35 who used an iPhone 6 during August 2016.

Of the participants, nearly 48 per cent (560) said they played the game at a trainer level of 5 or more, which means walking around for two hours.

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Using the iPhone step counter app, it was found that players upped their steps by an average of 955 steps in the first week. The number of steps started to reduce though over the next five weeks, and by the sixth week steps had returned to what they were at the very beginning.

“Pokemon GO is an augmented reality game in which players search real world locations for cartoon characters appearing on their smartphone screen,” researcher Katherine Howe said. “Games that incentivise exercise might have the potential to promote and sustain physical activity habits.

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“Because walking is encouraged while playing, Pokemon GO has been suggested to increase physical activity and improve public health, but these claims have been based on anecdotal evidence.”

She adds that the results show the health impact of Pokemon GO “might be moderate”.

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“Even if smaller amounts of physical activity might also be important for health outcomes, the increase in steps from Pokemon GO, as with many physical activity interventions, was not sustained over time,” she concluded.

© Cover Media

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