Photo via edowoo/Flickr (CC-BY-SA)
Everyone is obsessed with finding and catching Pokémon in Pokémon Go, the augmented reality app that launched earlier this week. But for some, Pokémon Go is more than just an entertaining app—it's helping them increase exercise.
Doug Byrd said using the app deliberately encourages him to be more active. Posting on Imgur under the username HypnoChanger, he said he walked 10 kilometers (or just over six miles) in one day thanks to Pokémon Go.
A caption shared with a Pokémon Go activity screenshot says he is "a 'bit' overweight. Something in the above 500 pounds range." Byrd further explains that he didn't set a fitness goal, and is anxious to see how the increased exercise makes him feel.
Byrd told me he thinks the game will help people be more active.
"The system for making your Pokémon stronger actually encourages catching the same Pokémon multiple times, which makes each encounter still feel rewarding even when you already have that Pokémon," Byrd said in an email to the Daily Dot.
In the replies to Byrd's photo, other Imgur users reflected on similar side-effects of the new Pokémon game—people are becoming more active as they hunt for Pokémon to catch on the map, wandering through neighborhoods looking to add characters to their collections.
My colleague Colette Bennett, who wrote a guide to getting started on Pokémon Go, said that she inadvertently logged over 8,000 steps while using the app. And other players are realizing a similar trend—catching Pokémon can feel like a workout, or be a fun way to gamify exercise.
One thing that could hinder Pokémon Go's fitness benefits, Byrd said, is how spaced out its gameplay is.
"One flaw which might drive some players away though is the lack of Pokéstops and gyms in rural areas," he said. "As important as they are to the game, it may discourage players who have to drive out to a nearby city to play, rather than just stepping outside and taking a walk."
Read more from the Daily Dot:
- Pokémon Go: A beginner's guide for getting started
- A beginner's guide to Pokémon Go battles
- The Pokémon Go memes are already here, and they're spectacular
There are a number of video games that can be used for working out. Games like Dance Central, Zombies! Run, and activities on Wii Fit buck the stereotype of gaming from the couch or computer and provide entertainment and fitness in an engaging and encouraging way.
Although these games are geared toward people who want a workout, Pokémon Go could similarly fall into a fitness category. Wandering around a map catching Pokémon requires a lot of energy, especially when the Pokémon are spaced few and far between, and Byrd said he received an achievement for hitting 10 kilometers in the app.
"Something I notice, compared to another walking app I had tried in the past, is that Pokémon Go is more focused on distance than time," Byrd said. "That seems to be a significant difference; as when a mission ends on Zombies! Run for example, I stop and think 'do I have the energy for another 30 minute mission?'. With Pokémon Go, there is no real moment where you stop and wonder about how tired you are. There's always the possibility that you'll find a Pokémon if you go a bit further."
Whether the game is intentionally trying to get people to exercise more, or it's just an unexpected perk, wandering the streets collecting Pokémon can burn some serious calories. Just make sure you don't walk into traffic trying to catch one.
If you're one of the millions who is currently obsessed with Pokémon Go, there's lots more to know: