Wandering around a neighbourhood with your phone in the air is no longer a sign that you’re lost – in fact, it likely means you’re hot on the trail of an elusive Pokémon. But have you stopped to think how playing Pokémon Go is affecting your health for the better?
Pokémon Go is a free-to-play mobile app that dropped in mid-July. The game uses your phone’s GPS to track your real-world location and augmented reality to help you locate, capture, battle and train fictional creatures called Pokémon. The Pokémon appear on your screen, overlaid on top of what your phone’s camera sees in front of you. And if that wasn’t awesome enough, you create a digital version of yourself that can be customized down to the clothing you wear and the faction (team) you join. Whether the game’s developers intended to do it remains to be seen, but they’ve managed to create a game with great physical and mental health benefits.
1. You move
The game requires you to move, plain and simple. It’s nearly impossible to advance in the game without moving around. And as research suggests that even a 30-minute walk every day can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke, the health benefits seem clear.
It’s amazing just how much of a motivator the game can be for getting you out of the house and walking around –and that’s a great thing! In addition to the game telling you what Pokémon are nearby, it also gives you another good reason to continually cover ground: hatching Pokémon eggs. When you get an egg you place it in an incubator and wait for it to hatch. But how long it takes to hatch is entirely up to you. The first eggs you get require you to walk 2 to 5 km for incubation to complete.
2. You interact
Technology gets a bad rap for driving a wedge between people and making us more anti-social, but in this instance the game brings people out and gets them talking to one another. Fans of the game are constantly interacting over their love of the game – sharing tips and tricks about where they might find their next Pokémon.
Social media is packed with information about the game. New Internet memes are popping up and people are sharing them around their online social circles. The more you see it, the more you’re likely to engage with it – and with other players.
3. You de-stress
The research is clear: exercise has enormous health benefits. Studies are finding that contact with nature has significant positive impacts on mental health. Then there’s the fact that exercise prompts the body to release endorphins, which in turn reduces stress and can help alleviate mild to moderate depression. Because Pokémon Go involves getting exercise outside, it’s going to do wonders for your mental health.
Just one note – in order to make the most of the game’s health benefits, make sure to play safely. Keep an eye on your surroundings, watching out for hazards like traffic or uncertain terrain. For added safety, take a friend with you, and tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back.
Your turn: Share how Pokémon Go has helped you stay active in the comment section below.