‘Pokemon Go’: The latest fitness fad?

I’m not sure about you guys, but for the past week and a half, ‘Pokemon Go’ seems to be all I’ve heard about on the radio and social media. And every other person I speak to is a ‘Pokemon Go’ player – perhaps this is the best way to get people moving right now?

According to last week’s survey by Qualtrics, which involved 750 ‘Pokemon Go’ players, this mobile game is being taken very seriously and as a result, players are now spending more time walking around outside as they hunt for the Pokemon. So, could ‘Pokemon Go’ be the latest fitness fad? It could well be. Listen to this: the same survey also found that ‘Pokemon Go’ players are, on average, spending an additional two hours outside per day compared to time spent outside before they started the game. And, perhaps a more impressive statistic than that: 43% of respondents reported weight-loss during their time playing the game so far.

If you’re sat there reading this and thinking, “What is this all about? What is ‘Pokemon Go’”? Let me help you a little, because I was in the same shoes until I spent some time doing a bit of research. The game uses augmented reality to place digital ‘pocket monsters’ in the real world. For example, once the game is downloaded and you become a player, a Pokemon will appear at a certain ‘PokeStop’. You are notified about where these Pokemon are, and using GPS, you have to travel to that ‘PokeStop’ to collect your digital Pokemon on your phone. Some characters are very rare Pokemon, so this makes the game more competitive – due to the limited number of them. You can’t cheat, as you have to be within a certain range of the Pokemon in order to collect them on your phone. The quicker you get there, the more chance you have of catching it.

Now that you hopefully have a little more insight into what the game is about, lets get back to some ‘stats’. The survey by Qualtrics also reported that despite increased activity levels, players are also taking greater health risks: 4% of players surveyed were pulled over for playing ‘Pokemon Go’ while driving and 85% admitted to playing the game while driving their vehicle. There have been numerous car crashes in America, Australia and in the UK. One player was stabbed when hunting for Pokemon in the middle of the night in Oregon, America and refused to get treatment so that he could continue playing! This next statistic is therefore not so surprising: Qualtrics also confirmed that ‘Pokemon Go’ is highly addictive. Sixteen percent of respondents reported playing for more than four hours a day, while 21% said they would rather play ‘Pokemon Go’ than have sex. Now that’s some dedication right?

The world is going ‘Pokemon Go’ crazy! Personally, I think it’s great if people are increasing their activity levels by walking outside, with the added bonus of enjoying a game. However, lets not let augmented reality take over our lives. After all, when all is said and done, it is just a game — and there are many more ways (safer ways) to increase activity levels.