Whether you played Pokémon as a kid or you’re just now getting in on the craze, you can probably see why the Pokémon Go app has gotten everyone outside trying to catch ‘em all. It has had a drastic cultural effect—people who would once have led a rather sedentary, isolated lifestyle are now out and about, meeting new people, and enjoying the outdoors.
So what exactly are the health benefits of Pokémon Go? Following are a few ways the app gets people—and even entire families—out and exercising.
- Tracking Pokémon: The first Pokémon you’re likely to encounter are generic variety Pidgey and Rattata, so when you find yourself tracking a rarer creature, it gets exciting. Players often walk miles to find more elusive (and much cooler looking) specimens like Pikachu, Bulbasaur, Charizard, and (if the rumors are true) legendary Pokémon like Articuno.
- Hatching eggs: Another aspect of the game is hatching eggs. To hatch a Pokémon egg, you need to walk a certain number of miles. You never know what’s going to pop out when you’re done, so there’s a certain excitement to walking around to find out what you’re going to get.
- Making friends: Pokéstops, where you stock up on Pokéballs for your journey, are places where people meet, often forming friendships over their mutual interest in the game. This is helpful because it eliminates the isolation that accompanies a variety of psychological disorders, thus improving mental health as well as physical fitness. And after all, exercise is more fun when you have a buddy to go with you! People can also meet where lures have been set or at gym locations.
It’s an exciting time for long-time fans of the franchise, and that has gotten numerous people out walking around. And we’re not talking casual strolling either—you get going at a pretty brisk pace when you find one of your favorite creatures in your area. We can probably expect to see a reduction in obesity and improvements in cardiovascular and mental health as a result of Pokémon Go.
A Few Caveats
There are a few things to consider though. As the app reminds you on startup, pay attention to your surroundings. Travel with groups of people (it’s pretty easy to do, considering how the game functions) for safety.
And above all, resist the nostalgic urge to boot up your old Pokémon Red or Blue version. Go outside. Get your energy up with a quick boost. Go catch ‘em all.