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Study: Pokemon GO increases physical activity, but not for very long

Researchers from Harvard University have conducted a study which shows that Pokemon GO does increase people's activity levels, but not for long.

Published onDecember 15, 2016

Pokemon Go Lure Module

Unlike most mobile games, Pokemon GO gets you off the couch and out the door. In addition to being fun, the game can also increase your physical activity. People from all over the world have been bragging about how much more active they are thanks to Pokemon GO. If you have a Pokemon GO playing friend, you no doubt would have already heard all about the fitness benefits of playing the game.

That may be true, but only to a point. Well, at least according to the interesting study that was recently published by The British Medical Journal. Researchers from Harvard University have conducted an online survey among 1,182 US citizens aged 18 to 35 years. The purpose of the study was to figure out if players really are more active thanks to Pokemon GO.

Pokémon Go is getting more Pokémon today
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Out of the 1,182 participants in the survey, 560 were avid Pokemon GO players, while the rest (622) had not downloaded or played the game. The researchers tracked and compared the activity — steps taken daily — of both groups four weeks before downloading the game, with the number of steps taken during the first six weeks of playing.

The data shows that before downloading the game, both groups took roughly the same number of steps on a daily basis. But as soon as participants started playing the game, things changed. In the first week, the playing group took 955 extra steps per day on average, which translates into 11 minutes of additional walking. Meanwhile, the non-playing group’s activity level did not change.

Apparently, Pokemon GO really does increase people’s physical activity. But unfortunately, the game wasn’t able to keep its players motivated for long. According to the study, the number of steps among the playing group returned back to pre-download levels within six weeks. The reason for this is that some stopped playing Pokemon GO, while others simply decreased their playing time and therefore took fewer steps.

So, there you have it. The study shows that Pokemon GO does indeed have an effect on players’ physical activity, but only for a short period of time. But this is only to be expected, as people tend to get bored easily and quickly move on to the next best thing. Pokemon GO was never going to maintain the fever pitch of its initial popularity for long.

It must also be noted that this study was part of the BMJ‘s year end research, which typically aims more for entertainment value than hard science, so your mileage may vary. If you’ve moved on from Pokemon GO and are looking for a new game to play, including those that don’t ask you to leave the couch, then be sure to check out our list of the best Android games of 2016.

Are you a lot more active than usual when playing Pokemon GO? Or do you simply do less walking outside the game?

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