Is Pokémon GO the Next Fitness Craze?
31 August 2016
You might have heard about Pokémon Go. It's been spreading like wildfire across the world since its release at the start of July.
With over 100,000,000 downloads, children, teenagers and fans of the original 1990s TV series have taken to the streets in their droves to try and catch Pokémon characters that have landed in their area, evolve them and battle to take over gyms from other players.
Perhaps no-one could have anticipated quite how quickly the game would take off, with players even taking their friends on hunts or even getting groups together online to try and find that elusive Charizard or Blastoise.
In a world where it's estimated that children spend up to six hours a day staring at a computer screen, surely a game that gets them active and out of the house can only be a good thing?
Increase in steps
The only way for players to enhance their prestige, evolve their Pokémon, battle for gyms and replenish their PokéBalls is to step outside, explore their local area and track the Pokémon down - you can't succeed by sitting on the sofa.
Fitness band maker Jawbone UP discovered that users who entered the game onto their system recorded an average increase in steps of up to 62.5% - this is an incredible increase, and it shows that players are willing to walk far and wide to hunt the Pokémon down.
Although some people like to take part in regular exercise or attend a fitness boot camp, others are choosing Pokémon. Walking about, finding PokéStops and exploring local landmarks may not be as intensive as going to the gym, it provides a fun and interactive way of getting some fresh air and exercise. In fact, some users may not even realise that they are getting a workout while playing this virtual reality game.
From the 9th-10th July, Jawbone found that users who were playing Pokémon GO logged an average of 8,375 more steps than what they would normally complete, so there's no doubt that it's getting people active.
Meet new people
Traditional workout techniques can be quite dull, especially the gym, because you often train by yourself, have no one to inspire you and often complete the same routines over and over again.
This is not the case with Pokémon go. Users never know when a character is going to appear, so it keeps things interesting. Large meetups are organised, allowing players to meet up with fellow Pokémon hunters in a set location and then spend hours trying to hunt the characters down. This novel idea is a great way to bring people together - Pokémon hunting will never be dull when you have a group of friends all aspiring to reach the same goals.
Will it last?
It's only natural that the novelty of the game will wear off eventually as players finally "catch 'em all". New updates will help to keep things interesting and encourage players to take to the streets once again, but whether this will happen often enough remains to be seen.
For now, though, we should embrace its benefits and just be thankful that the game is getting so many kids and adults active and out into the fresh air. How many games have done that in recent years?