Pokemon No Go: Research shows gaming fad’s physical fitness appeal was limited

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It was last summer’s hottest fad and was supposed to encourage gamers to venture outdoors with smartphone in hand, searching for strange, invisible creatures. But research shows Pokemon Go didn’t exactly create the fitness fever the game promoted.

According to a new study published in the British Medical Journal, when it came to getting people to move, Pokemon Go had only a short-term impact.

Researchers looked at 1,000 people between the ages of 18 and 35 who used the app for six weeks after its release last July.

During the first week, there was a sharp increase in physical activity, according to Jean-Philippe Chaput, a research scientist at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Ottawa.

“But after that, there was a decline, and it came back to pre-baseline levels after just six weeks.” he said in an interview with host Hallie Cotnam on CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning.

“So yes, it worked for the first week, but then after a month and a half, people were not walking more or moving more.”

Jean-Philippe Chaput

Jean-Philippe Chaput is with the healthy active and obesity research group at CHEO and an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Ottawa. (University of Ottawa)

“I think people look for a quick fix, so … they can lose weight quickly,” Chaput said. “We know that we have a lot of different kinds of diets and they don’t work.

“So it means that [Pokemon Go] fits with all of the other physical programs — it works over the short term, but even after a month and a half it doesn’t work well … we can say that Pokemon Go is a fad as well.”

Chaput wasn’t involved in the research for this study, but the editor of the British Medical Journal asked him and a colleague to write the commentary.

He says it’s “no surprise” that Pokemon Go didn’t solve obesity or physical activity problems, and people looking to get healthy should find activities and behaviours they plan to stick with for decades.

“I know some people still play Pokemon Go. So that’s good for them. But for the majority of people, when we look at average numbers … we don’t even hear about that anymore.”

pokemon gathering toronto

Researchers say despite the initial fad, Pokemon Go hasn’t resulted in a sustained increase in physical activity among users. (Jonathan Ore/CBC News)

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Pokemon No Go: Research shows gaming fad’s physical fitness appeal was limited

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