Have you noticed any strange behavior out in public recently? Any reports of large groups of people staring at their phones, darting from left to right, running around aimlessly, crouching around awkward objects, or yelling "Gotta catch them ALL!"?
Don't worry, it's no Zombie Apocalypse...just the latest craze in mobile apps, and chances are you've already heard about it.
Pokemon GO, a virtual rendition of the classic Pokemon game that crosses the virtual world into reality, has kids and adults of all ages getting off the couch and on the hunt to catch Pokemon, virtually anywhere! Years after the original Pokemon reached its peak, the game has made an official comeback and it's not going anywhere anytime soon!
So why is everyone in on the action?
Not only is the game entertaining, it provides a lot of really awesome benefits that you may have not even realized originally. There are several health benefits that can be gained from playing the game, including physical and emotional benefits. When immersed in the game you will find yourself...
Getting added cardio:
Pokemon GO is not your typical sit-in-one-place-and-play type of game. In order to make significant gains within the game, you have to get up and move. 30% percent of adults prefer to walk for exercise and with good reason. This game requires you to walk, then walk, and then walk some more.
Walking is an excellent form of exercise to keep you healthy and energetic. This gives you an added incentive to begin walking or increase your current walking distance. You can track your progress as you go (track how far you’ve actually walked). They require you to walk different distances before you’re surprised with a new Pokemon!
It was recently reported by someone that he had lost 10 pounds since he started to play the game. He attributes it to all of the walking required.
Receiving sunlight and fresh air:
I think it’s a safe bet to say that most people are aware of the positive effects sunlight can have on a person. It’s very important to keep in mind that exposure to the sun should be moderate. Too much exposure can cause negative side effects as well. When going outside, always apply sunscreen no matter the length of time you plan to spend in the sun. Even when it’s cloudy, your body still absorbs rays from the sun. The following are positive effects from sunlight:
- Natural source of Vitamin D, the sun can significantly improve depression.
- Studies have shown that lack of exposure to sunlight results in Seasonal Affective Disorder
- improves bone health and stimulates your body to absorb more calcium which is vital to sufficient bone density.
- Stimulates their growth in children.
- Lower the level of cortisol that’s been produced; which causes stress
- Improves a human’s capacity to circulate oxygen to different tissues in the body.
- Weight management - stimulates the thyroid gland which is responsible for metabolism.
- Lowers the risk of rheumatoid arthritis.
Fresh air produces the feeling of buoyancy, resilience and liveliness and can significantly improve your overall mental health.
Increasing social interaction:
So, what’s the deal with it improving your social life? Walking and searching in parks or other public places allows you to meet many new people, because you share a hobby. It allows for more interaction as well with your family members, children, spouses and friends.
Huge gatherings of game players keep popping up all around. Outside of the Sydney Opera House in Australia, over 2,000 people of all ages gathered to interact with each other while playing the game. Such social gatherings and interactions are rare when it comes to essentially "video games", but such a large group play can be incorporated. These people got out of their houses, off of the couches, away from the TVs or computers and ventured outside which resulted in new friendships, much needed exposure to the sun, fresh air and exercise.
More healthy perks!
- Break up your continuous, monotonous, and stationary daily tasks.
- Get educated - the app includes many historical, educational and artistic landmarks that you can learn about. Which is an excellent way to keep your mind sharp.
- Pass the time while you are exercising, which makes it more fun and enjoyable, giving you incentive to walk farther than you normally would.
- Walking doesn’t require any special equipment, skill or money, people can avoid the anxiety they may experience if they chose to attend a gym. Americans are more likely to stick to their walking regime than they would paying for a gym membership.
- Cardiovascular exercise, it controls blood pressure and improves your Endocrine System by helping to control diabetes.
All of these benefits have a cyclical effect, because one health problem can exacerbate another. The more exercise we get, the better we will feel. It’s a win-win situation!
We love that YouTube channel Migs & Gabs shared this video of their Grandmother getting in on the Pokemon action!
Since the app release...
So what makes this game different from the original:
Original Pokemon Game:
Pokemon was originally created by Nintendo in the late 1990s. You needed a Game Boy console and a physical cartridge in order to play. It was considered a role-playing game that expanded into more advanced Nintendo hand-held devices. Pokemon creators released new versions of the game 5 times since its inception and Pokemon GO is considered the sixth generation in the series. Pokemon trading cards were big with collectors and there the game can even be played using the cards. The recent Pokemon attention has greatly increased the worth of these cards and owners are starting to cash in their collections!
The New Pokemon GO:
So, it’s a free download from your respective app store for iOS and Android users alike. It’s been toted that since its launch debut on mobile devices. It utilizes your smartphone’s clock and navigational system to determine your location and the current time. You’ll notice Pokemon appearing on your phone intermittently, giving you the opportunity to “catch” them, incubate eggs, and then hatch them. The more you move around, random types of Pokemon will appear. This type of interacting is known as augmented reality, and it encourages the player to get off the couch and be active.
The different types of Pokemon and the virtual “monsters” it creates vary resembling birds, dinosaurs, snakes, dragons, eggs, rats, or even trees. The new Pokemon catalog has increased the numbers of different creatures to 720! The game requires you to walk; and walk quite a bit. The basic premise of the game is to “catch” various types of Pokemon creatures. You can find them virtually anywhere. The more distance and different places you look, the more you will acquire. This is how you level up and progress in the game. Search in and around your house, down the street, in neighbors’ backyards (if you have their permission, of course), at the office, in public bathrooms and buildings, hospitals, etc.
Adults Can Be Kids Too:
Many adults today were children when Pokemon first became popular in the late 1990s. With its resurgence, those “children” are feeling nostalgic. People use smartphones everyday for just about anything. With the app just a download away, and with all the hype it's too tempting not to download.
Since the release the app has been in a head-to-head competition with Twitter in terms of how often the application is used. Clearly, with the craze of this phenomenon it is not limited to adults who’ve only played when they were children. People of all ages have come to rely on their phones for entertainment and are always willing to try out a newly launched games that get so much attention.
What The Creators Didn't Anticipate:
Recently reports have been claiming negative consequences related to the game.
I guess we can't say if the creators didn't really anticipate a few bumps in the road. The app does include a warning to users:
Users have so intensely involved while playing that they forget to follow safety guidelines. They walk everywhere and anywhere to find Pokemon forgetting to look both ways before crossing a street. A news story reported about a teen, in Pittsburgh, who was struck by a car while playing the game, says she blames Pokemon GO.
I’ll admit that this happened to me as well the first time I attempted to play. It is a very active game, but you need to be completely focused on where you are as well. It's easy to get caught up in the hunt. Play in safe open areas like parks or out on the beach and certainly avoid the game while you're driving your car.
Also, we need to remember to be on guard while playing the game out in public areas. An unfortunate result has been that thieves are using the game to lure victims to steal their phones. To note there is a positive to that! Police have recently lured criminals to a specific area, leading to the arrest.
What you really need to know about Pokemon GO:
It's good for you and your overall health. You can reap the benefits of exercise and have fun doing it. Children and their grandparents are spending more time together because of Pokemon, and they’re having a blast. Those who have never exercised at all now have a motivational incentive to start. And those nostalgic, loyal, Pokemon fans get to relive their childhood memories. This game isn't going anywhere!
But I leave you with a crucial note of caution - always be aware of your surroundings, and pay attention to where you are going to stay safe!