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General Health and Wellness | July 12, 2016

Is Pokemon GO an Actual Workout?

A new gaming app has made its way into the hands of the general public, and it seems like everybody and their mother has downloaded it. Pokemon Go was released less than a week ago, and already it has found its way onto the phones of virtually every single person who was a child during the Pokemania phenomenon of the mid 1990’s. While the new game may be a nice dose of nostalgia for young adults, it also has some surprising potential mental and physical health benefits for players.

For those unfamiliar with the concept behind Pokemon Go, German Lopez from Vox has dedicated an article to a thorough explanation. As he puts it, “In simple terms, Pokemon Go uses your phone’s GPS and clock to detect where and when you are in the game and make Pokemon ‘appear’ around you (on your phone screen) so you can go and catch them.” What this does not explain is the reason Pokemon Go could be revolutionary when it comes to getting people up and on their feet. In order to catch Pokemon, which is, after all, the main goal of the game, players must venture wide and far to hunt them down. In other words, to become a true Pokemaster, you have to exercise.

Pokemon Go has enjoyed immense popularity since it was released on July 6th

Pokemon Go has enjoyed immense popularity since it was released on July 6th

Pokestops, Safari Zones, and Pokemon Go Gyms are some of the most sought after sites within the Pokemon Go world, and they are most easily accessible either on foot or by bicycle. At Pokestops, which are usually areas of local interest such as monuments, publicly displayed works of art, parks, restaurants, or even churches, players can pick up Pokeballs (necessary for capturing Pokemon), as well as various other prizes that can help increase the strength and stamina of already captured Pokemon. Safari Zones, which are often public parks or large grassy areas, offer the player a chance to encounter and catch a wider variety of Pokemon than anywhere else. At Gyms, which are usually located near popular businesses or public facilities, players get the chance to battle with their Pokemon. In addition, players can earn medals, experience points, and even new Pokemon if they walk a certain distance while playing the game.

Because Pokemon Go gives players a chance to finally live out their childhood Pokemon dreams in real life, walking long distances has become an adventure for them, rather than a chore. Even though the game has been out for such a short amount of time, the positive effects it is having on the mental and physical health of players has already been lauded. Maggie Wagner, IT’S TIME TEXAS Marketing Coordinator, has experienced some personal success when it comes to utilizing the new app for some fun exercise.

“My roommate and I have walked so far looking for new Pokestops, and trying to hunt down as many Pokemon as possible,” she said. “On Saturday we parked on the east side of 11th street and walked to the Capitol because it’s a particularly hot Safari Zone. Then we went all over the UT campus hunting down all the Pokemon we could get. In that one afternoon alone, we walked at least 10km. I know because I got a medal for doing so!”

IT'S TIME TEXAS Marketing Coordinator, Maggie Wagner, on a Pokemon Go adventure!

IT’S TIME TEXAS Marketing Coordinator, Maggie Wagner, on a Pokemon Go adventure!

While it is true that many Pokestops, Safari Zones, and Gyms can be visited by driving to them, the app will not count distance traveled over a certain speed toward the player’s overall distance traveled, meaning no medals are given for simply hopping in the car to drive from site to site. Ultimately, the best way to play the game is by walking, biking, or skating from one Pokestop, Safari Zone, or Gym to the next.  While some may consider this new game nothing but a fad, destined to fade from public interest as so many other social phenomena have, one thing is certain: thanks to Pokemon Go, people who normally don’t enjoy exercising are being given one particularly fun and rewarding way to do so.

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