Does Poke­mon get you on the go? For a bit: Study

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -

It has been hailed as a revo­lu­tion­ary way to get peo­ple mov­ing, us­ing smart­phones to pur­sue car­toon crea­tures through city parks and streets on foot, in­stead of tak­ing the car or metro. But has Poke­mon Go made peo­ple more ac­tive and healthy? A study yes­ter­day re­ported mixed success. In the first week of play­ing the game, peo­ple took 955 ad­di­tional steps per day on av­er­age-equal­ing nearly half the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion’s rec­om­mended phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity level, re­searchers found. But this soon pe­tered out, with ac­tiv­ity lev­els “back to pre-in­stal­la­tion lev­els” of around 4,250 steps per day by week six of play­ing the game which has be­come a global phe­nom­e­non.

“The re­sults sug­gest that the positive health im­pact of Poke­mon Go is mod­er­ate and di­min­ishes af­ter six weeks of play­ing,” said a state­ment from the Har­vard TH Chan School of Pub­lic Health, whose re­searchers con­ducted the study. The team mea­sured daily walk­ing among a group of 1,182 adults aged 18-35 in the United States. All used an iPhone 6 smart­phone, which au­to­mat­i­cally records the num­ber of steps you take while car­ry­ing the de­vice. They com­pared the av­er­age num­ber of steps taken per day for four weeks prior to down­load­ing Poke­mon Go, and for six weeks there­after.

Poke­mon Go is an aug­mented re­al­ity game which uses over­lay­ing graph­ics to get peo­ple chas­ing cute car­toon crea­tures that ap­pear in their vicin­ity, as seen through their phone cam­era. The game has been down­loaded over 500 mil­lion times since its launch in July, ac­cord­ing to the study pub­lished in the jour­nal BMJ. The study did not com­ment on the rea­sons for the re­lapse. “We are only at the be­gin­ning of un­der­stand­ing how aug­mented re­al­ity gam­ing can po­ten­tially be ben­e­fi­cial to health,” said Kather­ine Howe, who coau­thored the study.

“They give peo­ple a rea­son to go out­side, walk, and so­cial­ize. Imag­ine the po­ten­tial of de­vel­op­ing these games to not only in­crease phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity but to also boost men­tal well-be­ing, mood, cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties and so­cial in­ter­ac­tion,” she added. The study did point out the po­ten­tial risks, such as traf­fic ac­ci­dents caused by peo­ple dis­tracted while play­ing with their phones. One weak­ness of the re­search was that it did not reg­is­ter any phys­i­cal ex­er­cise done while not car­ry­ing the phone. —AFP

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