Pokémon GO increases physical activity the first 30 days

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Pokémon GO increases physical activity the first 30 days

Today there may not be many people who still play Pokémon Go, but none can deny its rampaging success in successfully activating the world-wide population last summer. What’s so unique with Pokémon Go is that it was able to reach even the low activity populations, whereas the most popular fitness apps today largely draw from an already active population. While diet and exercise are well-known cornerstones in prevention of obesity and its associated complications, people often find it difficult to make and maintain the sometimes difficult lifestyle changes. Since Pokémon Go only requires the user to have a smartphone it’s considered a more fun way to engage in physical activity. (1)

Study outcomes

A study had the players wear activity bands which measured daily steps, over a period of 3 months. The result showed that during the first 30 days the players increased their physical activity as well as their activity by 1473 steps a day on average, a more than 25 % increase compared with their prior activity level. However after 30 days the activity steadily declined. (2)

Another study showed that Pokémon Go players spent around ~150 min/week to catch Pokémon (meaning walking/jogging outdoors) which is equivalent to burning 357 kcal/week for a 60-kg person walking a moderate pace. That effect also persisted for 1 month. (3)

More studies showed that players tended to walk an average 4256 steps each day in the first four weeks of playing, an increase with almost 1000 steps compared. Although by the sixth week after installation, the number of daily steps had gone back to normal. (4)

Players responded that playing Pokémon Go was associated with positive responses like well-being, nostalgia, finding new friends and lastly a positive physiological effect from exercising. Probably not something that you’d say every time when exercising aerobic and strength training (5).

Since Pokémon Go increases the physical activity the first 30 days it may be an effective starting point for otherwise sedentary people to begin an active lifestyle.


  1. Kamboj A. Pokémon GO: An innovative smartphone gaming application with health benefits. Primary Care Diabetes. 2017.
  2. Althoff T. Influence of Pokémon Go on Physical Activity: Study and Implications. Journal of Medical Internet Research. 2016;18(12):e315.
  3. Wong F. Influence of Pokémon Go on physical activity levels of university players: a cross-sectional study. International Journal of Health Geographics. 2017;16(1).
  4. Howe K. Gotta catch’em all! Pokémon GO and physical activity among young adults: difference in differences study. BMJ. 2016;:i6270.
  5. Bonus J. Look on the Bright Side (of Media Effects): Pokémon Go as a Catalyst for Positive Life Experiences.Media Psychology. 2017;:1-25.

Post provided by @maria_ekblom, a member of #teamEBT. Licensed physiotherapist and personal trainer.

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