Pokémon Go Players Go Outside to Catch ‘Em All

Pokémon Go might be the next fitness craze. Since its launch on July 6, about 7.5 million people have downloaded and used the app in the United States. On a quest to collect eggs from PokéStops, Pokémon fans trek around neighborhoods, fixated on their cellphones and determined to catch ‘em all. According to Cardiogram, an app for Apple Watch that analyzes heart rate data, users’ exercise surged after the weekend Pokémon Go was launched. On the day of the launch, about 45 percent of users were exercising 30 or more minutes. Two days later, on Saturday, that number rose to 50 percent. The next day, it increased to 53 percent.

Was the app responsible for the increase in physical activity? The evidence is not conclusive, but statistics from different activity tracking apps make a strong case for its role in encouraging players to walk around reliving the adventures of Ash, Brock and Misty. Mike Caldwell, co-founder of Pacer, says that his team looked at its users younger than 30 and saw a 5 to 10 percent increase in daily steps. Pacer, a physical activity tracking app, allows users to join support groups and a number of Pokémon walking groups have emerged across the country.

Now users are starting to enter Pokémon Go as a workout on their fitness tracking apps. Rebecca Silliman, director of communications with Under Armour Connected Fitness, says they generally burn around 250-300 calories each time they play. The average Pokémon Go user experience involves a lot of walking without high-intensity fitness, but the website Lifehacker has even devised a Pokémon Go interval training workout for more ambitious users.

Who knew video-game addiction could have positive effects?

– Aparna Mazumdar