Many of you will have heard me waxing lyrical about Pokemon Go in recent weeks. To the untrained ear I seem to know everything no-one ever wanted to know about the game, despite never having played it myself. There are two reasons for this. One, I have a Microsoft phone (which I love) and the game has not been picked up by the store and it doesn’t seem like it will anytime soon. Number two, even if I could get the game on my phone I’m not convinced I would have downloaded it in the first place. My desire to play Pokemon Go aside, this game has proven to have health benefits for both our physical and mental health.
For those few of you still in the dark about how the game works, it involves walking. A lot of walking. Not only do you have to walk to find Pokemon which spawn in the real world (seen through your camera) but the more steps you take the quicker your Pokemon will hatch, once caught by your Pokeball. The first person to catch ’em all (catching a full Pokedex of 142 available in North Ameria) walked a total of 140 miles and lost 2 stone completing the game. That’s a hell of a lot of exercise if you ask me. The health benefits here are obvious. Walking is good for us, it can help us increase our fitness level whilst increasing our experience level as a Pokemon trainer. For those gamers out there, what’s not to love?
Above and beyond the weight loss and fitness levels, Pokemon Go is getting us outside. Walking outside is proven to lower our cortisol levels which reduces our stress level. Spending more time outside, in the sun (hopefully!), also gives us the chance to absorb more Vitamin D. There are numerous articles online about the health benefits of Vitamin D including the regulation of calcium to promote healthy bones, muscles and teeth. The game is also pulling us away from activities we may only do inside. Although we seem to be switching up one screen for another, albeit slightly smaller one, at least we’re not huddled indoors watching Netflix without pause.
A number of people have noted how Pokemon Go is helping with their mental health, particularly social anxiety. Those who find it hard to leave the house, be in crowds or socialize have found refuge in the app. The game allows them to take part in a shared experience and be a part of something. Whether meeting new people or current friends at a Pokestop or Pokegym to battle their new ‘pets’, Pokemon Go has provided a new, and seemingly valued, point of connection. We know how important socializing is and our increasing preoccupation with screens and ability to socialize on any number of media platforms has reduced the time we spend socializing face-to-face. It looks like Pokemon Go may be changing this.
Others have found that Pokemon Go helps them struggle through their depression. One gamer, in an article on The Mighty found here, tells how playing Pokemon Go with her co-workers chases away the negative thoughts that plague her. Her co-workers encouragement to join them at their local Pokestop at work gets her out of her head for a time. Others have noted how Pokemon Go has given them a place to ‘fit in’. They’ve found their own niche in society. One result of this is an increase in confidence whether leaving the house, speaking to new or discovering new places in the outside world. The game also provides people with small and manageable goals to achieve. Whether catching a new Pokemon, winning battles and levelling up your Pokemon or simply training them in a nearby gym, there are numerous ways to feel a sense of achievement.
So next time you don’t quite feel like hitting the gym or you’re looking for a new form of exercise, why not hit you phone app store first? In this new age of media and technological advancement opportunities for exercise and looking after our overall health are turning up in the most unexpected of places!