Forget About Fitness Apps, You Need Pokémon Go!
If you haven’t heard about Pokémon Go, you may have been hiding under a rock. Although just released here earlier this month, Pokémon is already famous – or infamous- for the chaos it is causing. Complaints about disturbing the sanctity of memorials and cemeteries and other bad behavior have been reported just about two weeks after Pokémon Go made its U.S. debut. My local park looks like some version of a zombie apocalypse, with teens and young adults walking, standing, sitting and even riding bikes and skateboards, staring intently at their phones.
In spite of my introduction, I don’t want to talk about what’s wrong with Pokémon Go. I want to talk about what’s GREAT about it. I have seen more physical activity among the generation most famous for spending too much time in front of a computer than I can even describe here. Granted, Pokémon chasers are still looking at their device, but at least they are getting outside for some fresh air, vitamin D, and physical activity!
My boyfriend’s children, both avid Xbox enthusiasts, want to go outside and run and walk every day to fulfill the game’s requirements. Just to give some perspective on what this means, the older child will spend all day in the basement playing Xbox, coming out only to eat and sleep. Since Pokémon, I think he has been out in the daylight more than any time since I met him.
Pokémon Go is an opportunity to teach your children and other family members, the value of physical activity while engaging them in something they might already enjoy. Consider these statistics: Nearly one-third of high school students play video or computer games for 3 or more hours on an average school day. Right now only 1 in 3 children are physically active every day and only 1 in 3 adults get at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. Physical activity is linked to better academic or work performance and has been called out by some medical practitioners as a strategy for hyperactivity or kids identified as ADHD.
We know that exercise is medicine and we all know someone who could use a little bit more. Let’s use the Pokémon trend to help sedentary adults and children discover physical activity. While the trend may pass, the habit might not. The fact that Pokémon Go pushes users to go outside and explore is simple but immediately effective in improving Americans’ physical activity habits.