Pokemon Go added 144 billion steps to the U.S.’ physical activity, according to a new study. The world has fallen in love with Pokémon GO since it launched in July. Pokémon GO has been downloaded more than 500 million times worldwide.
While enjoyable, the mobile apps game gained somewhat a negative reputation because of people playing while driving. There have reports of players wandering into private properties and even accidentally crossing into Canada searching for PokéStops.
However, there is something very positive about the game. A new study has proven that Pokémon GO has been able to do what Michelle Obama has been pushing Americans to do since she entered the White House – move, run, dance, and take part in physical activities.
“Influence of Pokémon Go on Physical Activity: Study and Implications” was put together by a group of experts composed of Tim Althoff from Stanford University, Ryen W. White, and Eric Horvitz both from Microsoft. The researchers gathered data from 32,000 players during a three-month period.
The players were males, females, different ages, and various weight categories. From July to September, the experts looked at “a combination of signals from large-scale corpora of wearable sensor data and search engine logs, to quantify the impact of Pokémon Go on physical activity.”
The study, which was posted in the Cornell University Library, revealed that while the players were running around to make sure their rare eggs hatched, on average they are getting 26 percent more physical activity compared to when they were not using the app.
Using those numbers, the experts estimated that during those three months Pokémon GO added 144 billion steps to the United States’ physical activity. Those extra 144 billion steps mean that Americans are making positive changes to their health. Althoff explained:
“In the paper, we go through a life expectancy analysis based on the assumption that Pokémon GO would be able to sustain a 1,000 steps/day increase.[That] is roughly an 18 percent increase for our users. We find that life expectancy would increase by an estimated 41 days per users. Across the 25 million US Pokémon Go users. This would translate to 2.825 million years additional life added to U.S. users. That highlights the massive impact that games like Pokémon Go could have on public health.”
While the study confirmed that playing is ideal for the health, the experts can not say if the players will maintain their physical activity. It has been confirmed that since the launch of the game there has been a significant decline in sales. Althoff added:
“I think the big question is whether these games can sustain long-term engagement.Even if it’s not at the massive scale of tens of millions of users that started out playing, these games could make a really valuable contribution to public health.”
The Stanford researcher said this is the first and only study done on the subject and he hopes that others experts will weigh on it too. He stated:
“Physical activity is critical to human health and Pokémon GO players might realize that they actually feel better after being more active. [So are] there any signs of sustained behavior change? Who are the types of people for whom these types of games work well, and who continue to be more active than they would have been?”
Experts say that every little bit counts.