When Pokemon Go started buzzing on social media, I didn’t pay much attention at first.
However, once I started seeing Pokemon Go zombies roaming around my town, I realized this was more than a quick fad — it’s a sign of the future of gaming.
Although I don’t play video games much at all myself, I like the idea of a video game that gets kids off the couch and outdoors.
While you’re probably better off avoiding video games altogether to be as fit and productive as possible, if you’re going to play a video game, Pokemon Go does appear to have some health benefits.
The Health Benefits of Pokemon Go
Unlike World of Warcraft and other games of that nature, Pokemon Go doesn’t keep you locked in a chair for hours on end.
And it also doesn’t encourage antisocial behavior — in fact, it does quite the opposite.
Pokemon Go helps you get more vitamin D
Pokemon Go is an app that uses the GPS on your phone to create an augmented reality based on your current location. To play the game, you have to go physically to where the Pokemon are if you want to catch them all.
Since Pokemon Go launched, I’ve seen way more people than usual at the parks in my area — especially during non-peak hours. All of these people who normally wouldn’t spend much time outdoors are finally getting a healthy dose of much-needed vitamin D!
By design, there are more Pokemon located near walking trails, parks, outdoor shopping centers, and other venues that require players to actually spend time in the sun.
Pokemon Go forces you to exercise (kind of)
Pokemon Go has built-in features that force you to walk more to advance in the game.
“What began as just playing the game has now become a hobby for me that provides certain health benefits,” Hoffman continued. “I’ve spent an hour or two at a time venturing around the community to find Pokéstops. And, to hatch one egg, a trainer must walk anywhere from one to six miles. There’s no doubt about it, I am exercising more as a result of playing the game, and I am enjoying it.” (Source)
Walking might not sound like rigorous exercise, but it makes all the difference for people who are overweight or in poor health.
Pokemon Go could ease Type 2 Diabetes burden
According to ScienceDaily:
“Dr Tom Yates, a Reader in Physical Activity, Sedentary Behaviour and Health at the University of Leicester based at the Leicester Diabetes Centre, said: “Recent figures suggest five million people in England are at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, which is largely associated with physical inactivity obesity.
“If there is something out there which is getting people off the sofa and pounding the streets then this game could be an innovative solution for rising obesity levels.
“Walking is hugely underrated yet it is man’s best and the cheapest form of exercise. It’s an easy and accessible way to get active and help maintain a healthy body.” […]
Obesity is the most potent risk factor for Type 2 diabetes as it accounts for 80-85 per cent of the overall risk of developing the condition.
Last year the findings of a study, which was carried out at the Leicester Diabetes Centre, demonstrated the importance of incorporating breaks in prolonged sitting into otherwise sedentary lifestyles.
The research, which was led by University of Leicester researchers working for the NIHR Leicester-Loughborough Diet, Lifestyle and Physical Activity Biomedical Research Unit (BRU), showed that women could prevent developing Type 2 diabetes by regularly standing up or walking.
Published in Diabetes Care, the journal of the American Diabetes Association, the research suggested that breaking up prolonged periods of sitting regularly with five minutes bouts of light movement every 30 minutes significantly reduces blood sugar and insulin levels.”
All of that walking and time outdoors has other benefits, as well.
Pokemon Go improves mental heath
One of the most surprising, and most commonly reported, benefits of playing Pokemon Go is how it affects people with mental health disorders — especially those who suffer from depression.
According to Dr. John Grohol, an expert in technology’s impact on human and mental health:
“In terms of the phenomena of people expressing the benefits of playing the game to their real-world mental health status, I think that’s very unique and it’s the first time I’ve ever seen anything like that,” he says.
“The challenge has always been, if you’re depressed, your motivation level is nonexistent,” he explains. “So, you want to go out and get some fresh air, or even take a shower, and it can be a very difficult thing to even comprehend, much less do. I think the impact of something like this, this game, can really be beneficial.”
“The research is really, really clear on this, that the more you exercise, the more it would help decrease feelings of depression,” he says. “It actually works as an anti-depressant and it has a really, pretty strong effect. It’s probably one of the most beneficial things a person with depression can do, especially if they’re not accessing other types of treatments, such as psychotherapy or medication.”
And he’s not alone.
Ben Michaelis, Ph.D., an evolutionary clinical psychologist, agrees:
“I think it’s a genuinely positive development,” he says.
“The game could provide motivation to go outside and explore the world through a sort of enhanced reality,” he explains. “It could also provide people with enough of a distraction from their fears and inner monologue to get them to do something that might be challenging for them.”
If you’re in a funk and you like video games, this could be a way to get active and start feeling better again.
The Health Risks of Pokemon Go
While it’s nice that Pokemon Go is getting people active and helping them socialize with others over a common bond, it’s also turning people into zombies.
There have already been a ton of reports of wrecks caused by people playing Pokemon Go while driving, and then there are the idiots who have put their lives in danger to catch a Pokemon.
- Driver playing Pokemon Go hits cop car; crash caught on camera
- Pokémon Go player crashes his car into a tree
- Teen Playing Pokémon Go Walks Onto Highway And Gets Hit By A Car
In fact, several government officials and organizations have issued warnings about potential health hazards, including Turkey, Israel, Bosnia, and Japan.
I played Pokemon Go for a couple of weeks (for research purposes) and I’ll admit it was actually pretty fun. It does require you to get out and walk a lot.
However, I’m just not into video games so it didn’t hold my interest.
If you’re going to play a video game, I would recommend Pokemon Go because you’ll get some exercise and you’ll inevitably meet new people when you go to the popular Pokemon areas in your town (they’re everywhere).
As for me, I’m going to keep playing the game of life.
Instead of HP and powerups, I like developing new habits and making money.
If that sounds more like the type of game you’d be into, you’ll love my book.
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What do you think? Do you agree, disagree or have any thoughts to add? Let me know in the comments below.
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