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J Med Internet Res. 2016 Dec 6;18(12):e315.

Influence of Pokémon Go on Physical Activity: Study and Implications.

Author information

1
Computer Science Department, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, United States.
2
Microsoft Research, Redmond, WA, United States.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Physical activity helps people maintain a healthy weight and reduces the risk for several chronic diseases. Although this knowledge is widely recognized, adults and children in many countries around the world do not get recommended amounts of physical activity. Although many interventions are found to be ineffective at increasing physical activity or reaching inactive populations, there have been anecdotal reports of increased physical activity due to novel mobile games that embed game play in the physical world. The most recent and salient example of such a game is Pokémon Go, which has reportedly reached tens of millions of users in the United States and worldwide.

OBJECTIVE:

The objective of this study was to quantify the impact of Pokémon Go on physical activity.

METHODS:

We study the effect of Pokémon Go on physical activity through a combination of signals from large-scale corpora of wearable sensor data and search engine logs for 32,000 Microsoft Band users over a period of 3 months. Pokémon Go players are identified through search engine queries and physical activity is measured through accelerometers.

RESULTS:

We find that Pokémon Go leads to significant increases in physical activity over a period of 30 days, with particularly engaged users (ie, those making multiple search queries for details about game usage) increasing their activity by 1473 steps a day on average, a more than 25% increase compared with their prior activity level (P<.001). 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. Furthermore, Pokémon Go has been able to increase physical activity across men and women of all ages, weight status, and prior activity levels showing this form of game leads to increases in physical activity with significant implications for public health. In particular, we find that Pokémon Go is able to reach low activity populations, whereas all 4 leading mobile health apps studied in this work largely draw from an already very active population.

CONCLUSIONS:

Mobile apps combining game play with physical activity lead to substantial short-term activity increases and, in contrast to many existing interventions and mobile health apps, have the potential to reach activity-poor populations. Future studies are needed to investigate potential long-term effects of these applications.

KEYWORDS:

Pokémon Go; exergames; games; mHealth; mobile applications; mobile health; physical activity; public health; wearable devices

Comment in

PMID:
27923778
PMCID:
PMC5174727
DOI:
10.2196/jmir.6759
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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