The new “video” game, Pokemon-GO, is getting people exercising and socializing—great treatments for obesity and depression. But will it have to staying power?

Chasing Creatures

Pokemon-GO is a game described as “augmented reality.” It’s an app you play on your mobile device. You find Pokemon creatures, catch them, and pit them against each other. To play, you must walk to various locations. Chances are many other people are playing and going to the same place. Exercise and socializing. Sounds like a fun way to combat depression and obesity.
What’s amazing about this worldwide craze is that no one’s even noticing that they’re exercising. To capture the creatures, you have to travel to their location. To “hatch” eggs that hold certain animals, you must also walk. Sometimes it’s anywhere from 2 kilometers up to 10. (That’s roughly somewhere between one and six miles!) People are reporting walking over 20 miles a week.

The Problem with Gaming

Many individuals who play games on their electronic devices and computers do not move around much. At least while they are playing. Teens have been known to sit for hours, forgetting to eat—or continuously eating. This sedentary non-action is incredibly dangerous for one’s health. Sitting for five hours a day is equivalent to smoking a pack of cigarettes.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has noted that passive media viewing has contributed to our obesity epidemic in this country. If Pokemon-GO can get kids and adults alike out of the house and moving around, that’s a great thing. Even better when parents and their teens are spending time together!

Socially Speaking

Pokemon-Go, within one week, became the world’s most popular mobile game. Since the match arrived in the marketplace, there’s been a noticeable increase of people in parks, walking in neighborhoods and their towns. Gaming at home has been linked to isolation, depression, and a loss of interest in other activities.
According to a study from the University of Minnesota, it was revealed that people with depression benefit from socializing. In fact, socializing was shown to be as beneficial or even more so than exercising. Combining the two proved to reap the greatest results for lessening the effects of depression and anxiety.
Although playing Pokemon-GO appears to be a form of escapism, it’s providing other advantages. Reading, watching TV, drinking alcohol, among other activities are also escapist behaviors. At least this game is providing a level of exercise and a way to meet new people and share in a common interest.
Of course, we’ve heard about people obliviously walking into traffic, off cliffs, etc. Maybe there can be a “designated walker” who can join you while you play the game but makes sure you stay safe. They’d reap the benefits of movement and company too. If you hear the name Pikachu or Jigglypuff being called, you’ll know someone nearby is on a mission…
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