Play more video games.
That’s not exactly health and wellness advice you expect to hear. But this could be changing with the advent of mobile games that require you to be, well, mobile.
Pokemon Go, the mobile app version of the long-popular video game, has been a huge hit among kids and adults alike since its release in summer 2016.
Pokemon Go works on the same concept of the original game. You catch Pokemon and train them for battles. But this new version of the game comes with a surprising twist. To “catch ’em all,” you need to actually get off the couch and move.
The game uses the GPS and camera already on your phone to map your environment and then “place” Pokemon within it. The more you explore your surroundings, the more creatures you can find. You may find a Bulbasaur in your backyard, or a Pikachu in the park down the street.
You can also pick up eggs that contain Pokemon or other game extras. Those eggs only hatch when you walk a specific distance, ranging from 2 km (about a mile) to 10 km (about 6 miles).
All this adds up to more steps taken. Which means that playing video games can actually contribute to a healthier lifestyle, says Dr. Brian Curtis, director of physician practice for OSF Medical Group.
“It’s recommended people exercise 30 minutes a day,” Dr. Curtis said. “While Pokemon Go won’t be intense or moderate exercise because of the stop and go nature of the game, it can count toward your daily exercise. You just may need more than 30 minutes.”
Despite the health benefits, there are some safety concerns associated with the game. If you or your children choose to play Pokemon Go, please follow these tips to keep yourselves healthy and safe on your quest to be the very best:
- Be aware of your surroundings. You don’t want to walk into the street or a light pole because you’re too focused on your phone. The app will alert you when you’re within range of a Pokemon or a Pokestop, so you can keep your eyes up!
- Stick to familiar territory. If your child is playing Pokemon Go, set limits ahead of time about where they can walk – or better yet, go with them yourself for some active family time.
- Be respectful of those around you. Not everyone is outside to play. People around you may not appreciate you stopping suddenly in front of them to catch a Pokemon or shouting in a normally quiet area.
- Don’t trespass. Not even a rare Pokemon is worth breaking the law.
- Gaming and driving don’t mix. Park the car and get out to play.
Dr. Curtis also advises taking it slow if you haven’t gotten a lot of exercise in the past.
“Unlocking two eggs a day should be a good start,” he said.