Pokemon Go took the United States by storm this summer as people tromped through parks and yards in search of Charizards and Bulbasaurs. While it was widely suspected that the game was making users more active, the Microsoft study offers hard proof.
No matter their gender, age, weight or lifestyle, Pokemon Go users began to move more — taking an extra 194 steps a day once they started using the app. (That’s the equivalent of walking roughly one-tenth of a mile.)
The researchers estimate that Pokemon Go has added 144 billion steps to U.S. physical activity. That’s 143 roundtrips to the moon.
According to Fortune Magazine, “Assuming the players (aged 15 to 49) continued participating at that rate indefinitely, “this would be associated with 41.4 days of additional life expectancy,” the researchers calculated.”
Here’s the rub – the study points out that the real challenge is keeping people interested and engaged. Many users tend to stop playing as much or stop playing completely once the initial shine of the game fades. ZD Net points out that when Pokémon Go launched in early July…..it “peaked with 40 million users worldwide later that month — but since August has shed more than 10 million users.”
However, Pokemon Go was able to do something many traditional health apps have struggled to do — it encouraged typically sedentary people to get up and move. For that reason, it has piqued the interest of health researchers.
“Comparing Pokémon Go to existing mobile health apps, we find further evidence that Pokémon Go is able to reach low activity populations while mobile health and fitness apps largely draw from an already active population,” the researchers explained. “This highlights the promise of game-based interventions versus traditional approaches, which have often been ineffective for these groups of people.”
There is no question the game’s popularity has dropped significantly, but do you believe gaming – on the whole – holds any public health promise? We would love to hear your thoughts. Generating thoughtful conversations can lead to innovative solutions. And innovative solutions help us take another step toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!