One year ago, Pokemon GO managed to get people off their sofas and send them hiking through parks, meandering into streets and walking for miles in search of the cute little digital characters.
Capturing the little monsters isn't just fun for the players, it might be good for their health. Too often we sit at a desk all day, spend countless hours in the car, and with a smartphone glued to our hands it is too easy to spend our free time watching videos, playing games and browsing the internet. Such sedentary behaviours cause us to sit more and exercise less.
However, Kent State University researchers found that playing a popular physically-interactive, smartphone based game, like Pokemon GO, may actually promote exercise.
Researchers Jacob Barkley and Ellen Glickman assessed the ability of the popular, physically-interactive, smartphone based video game Pokemon GO to increase walking and decrease sedentary behaviour, like sitting. Over 350 college students reported their physical activity and sedentary behaviour the week before they downloaded Pokemon GO, the week immediately after downloading the game, and again several weeks later.
Results show that, relative to the week before downloading Pokemon GO, students doubled their daily walking behaviour (102 percent increase) and reduced sedentary behaviour by 25 percent during the first week after downloading. When comparing behaviour several weeks after downloading Pokemon GO, to the week before downloading, walking and sedentary behaviour was still 68 percent greater and 18 percent lower, respectively, even though frequency of game play decreased by 58 percent.
"While the largest increases in walking and decreases in sitting occurred during the first week after downloading, when the game was new to the user, those positive effects largely persisted weeks later," Barkley said. "It is possible that games like Pokemon GO may help people initiate a positive health behaviour change, such as more daily walking and less sitting."
The researchers suggest that while many smartphone functions may promote sedentary activity, they are hopeful that playing physically-interactive, smartphone based video games like Pokemon GO may help promote walking and reduce sitting in college students.
The study is published in the Games for Health Journal.