In July of this year, an app built by Nintendo and Niantic Inc rolled out to enormous fanfare.
It was the summer of Pokémon GO!
What is Pokémon GO?
If you somehow managed to miss the onslaught of marketing and hype, Pokémon GO is billed as a mobile game that takes full advantage of some of the more basic technologies available on smart phones.
The digital world of Pokémon gyms and Pikachu are merged (using GPS and camera functionality) with the physical reality of parks, sidewalks and coffee shops.
The premise of this augmented reality game sees a real-world map combined with an army of digital monsters the player needs to capture. There are special Pokémon gyms where these characters can be fully trained and primed up. Put them through their paces on an exercise bike or get them lifting some weights!
How Can A Game Help With Fitness?
The key difference between Pokémon GO and a regular video game is the pivotal involvement of the physical world.
Slumping in front of the PlayStation or X-Box may be unbeatable fun but it’s bad for the posture and causes many gamers to spend far too much time cooped up inside.
Marrying rare Pokémon characters or gyms to actual physical landmarks means that to play the game effectively you need to jump up off the couch and head outside for some exercise.
How about cheating?
No dice. A crafty in-app speedo cuts out the distance count completely if your speed creeps above about 10mph so no driving, running or cycling! It’s all about incorporating meaningful, gentle exercise into your life in a lighthearted fashion: this is central to maintaining any exercise routine.
What Other Benefits Does Pokémon GO Provide?
The physical advantages of walking can also give your mental health a sharp boost.
A joint study conducted by researchers from the Scottish universities of Edinburgh and Stirling showed that walking has a general tendency to reduce symptoms of depression.
There was a great deal of variability in the results and the researchers urged anyone suffering from depression to seek medical treatment. Overall, though, getting up on your feet and taking a regular walk can certainly help to enhance your mood.
This article outlines many of the specific reasons for a definite link between how we feel physically and mentally.
The social element of Pokémon GO is another distinct advantage for lifting your mood. Adventuring outside on the trail of digital avatars is a great way to interact with other people. We all need contact with others to feel our very best. Isolation is unnatural. We are social animals.
In today’s world of entitlement, few of us like to compromise. We want it all!
If you want to shake things up but refuse to quit playing games, get the best of both worlds with Pokémon GO.
If you have a child who is reluctant to put down his controller, encourage them to get this game and keep their activity levels elevated.
Pokémon GO is really a natural extension of what started a decade ago with the Nintendo Wii. First we started moving around playing games indoors and now the games travel beyond our living space and into the great outdoors.
As the saying goes, If you can’t beat em, join em. Try some Pokémon GO and see for yourself what difference it makes to your physical and mental wellbeing.