Study finds Pokémon Go increases physical activity

A recent study suggest avid Pokémon Go users have a significant increase in physical activity according to Microsoft and Stanford University. The Oct. 6 study conducted by Ryen W. White and Eric Horvitz from the Microsoft team along with Tim Althoff from Stanford University logged the activity of 31,793 U.S. users over a span of 30 days.

The players were identified by using search engines recognizing players and the activity logs were tracked by a method called accelerometry — a feature on cellphones that calculates how many steps individuals take. During the study users were given a Microsoft Band product to calculate their physical activity.

Using this method, the scholars found that physical activity is increased. “In the short time span of the study, we estimate that Pokémon Go has added a total of 144 billion steps to US physical activity,” says the official study. Engaged users saw an increase of over 1,400 steps a day on average, which is a 25 percent increase from their prior activity.

The study also estimated that the long term effect of those with a sustained interest in Pokémon Go is a reduction in their mortality rate by six percent — which adds an estimated number of eight million years of life to the app’s players.

“I walked a lot for sure. Egg hatching had me walking around for hours, which I really had never done for fun before,” said UWT student Colin Overturf, a big fan of the game back when it came out in June of this year. Overturf says he’s glad Pokémon Go has created an opportunity to relive a game from his childhood. “It has the original Pokémon from all the Pokémon games I played as a kid. I’ve always been a huge Pokémon fan so it’s really cool to see sort of an ‘adult’ version or a version that can appeal to the people that used to play the old games,” he says.

Althoff, Horvitz and White agree Pokémon Go could eventually go the way of many other “here today, gone tomorrow” applications, but they do agree Pokémon Go is unique in its combining game play with physical activity — something many other applications fail to achieve.