[Image Source: Sadie Hernandez]
Pokemon GO has taken the world by storm. It seems as though one day we were all living our lives as we knew it, and the next we were either out chasing Pokemon’s or asking what the hell they are.
A friend told me I should write a blog about Pokemon GO. She explained how a friend of hers had gone from no exercise, to walking everyday. According to his Fitbit, he didn’t regularly take more than 6,000 steps in a day; however, playing Pokemon GO, he’s exceeded 11,000 steps a day and on one of the days, he exceeded 25,000 steps. That’s incredible.
I’ve been recording how many steps I take per day on my Apple Watch. I set the goal of 10,000 steps a day, which is the recommended amount according to doctors and personal trainers. As a pretty active person, with a fairly active usual day, I thought taking 10,000 steps would be easy. Uh uh. No it wasn’t. I regularly made 6,000-7,000 steps a day, but to reach 10,000, I had to consciously move around A LOT. So, to exceed 25,000 steps; that’s a lot of walking around.
If nothing else, Pokemon GO has encouraged people who wouldn’t normally exercise, or take a lot of steps, to be active. I’m sure there are dangers that come with it, and we’ll be sure to hear about people walking into trouble while their head is buried in their phone or tablet, but getting people moving more, especially those who wouldn’t normally exercise, is a positive for public health.
So what is it?
Pokemon GO is a virtual reality game through your phone. You find PokeStops, which are real world locations where you can find PokeBalls and other things. You hatch eggs by walking a certain amount of kilometres depending on the type of egg. To raise the power level of the Pokemon, you have to feed them candy specific to their species, which you obtain every time you capture that particular species. You can use the candy to evolve them also.
How is Pokemon GO Good for Your Health?
The fact that you have to walk so much in this game means you can increase your steps each day without feeling like you’re exercising. I went for a drive into town on Saturday and there were masses of people walking around on their phones. I don’t know for sure what they were doing on their phone, but the way they were pointing and getting excited while looking at their screen led me to believe they weren’t getting excited about a text message.
Going out looking for Pokemon is fun. But looking for Pokemon with your friends is even better. It’s very easy to get swept up in the craze and chances are your friends are interested in learning what it’s all about too. My brother sent me a Snapchat last night of him, his partner and my sister, saying, ‘It’s Go Time’. I didn’t know what they were talking about at first but the goofy look of excitement on their faces made me click.
Walking around and spending time with friends laughing, releases a cocktail of positive neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters like serotonin, which improves self-esteem; dopamine, which makes you want to come back for more; endorphins, which elevate your mood; norepinephrine, which excites you; and GABA, which reduces stress, anxiety and pain, leaving you feeling calm. These neurotransmitters have a profound impact on your emotional state, which in turn improves your physical health.
Niantic (and the people behind Google Earth) have found a way to truly take computer games into the real world. In the process, they’ve created a viral phenomenon and encouraged people to get outdoors and exercise more, in a way that is fun (and a little addictive). Who knows what the next level is in this virtual reality style of game play, but you can bet your bottom dollar companies like Sony, Microsoft and probably Facebook, will be working on something.
How many steps are you currently taking each day? If you’ve already started playing the game, how much have you increased your steps by?
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