Updated 20 June 2017

5 ways Pokémon Go can improve your health

Pokémon Go has taken the world by storm, but what are the health benefits of hunting virtual monsters in your neighbourhood?

It’s been a while since an online game has swept across the globe like Pokémon Go. In less than a week the app has overtaken the dating app Tinder and is well on its way to have more users than social networking site Twitter.

Augmented reality

The app is based on Pokémon, a video game and anime series created in 1996. Pokémon adventurers travel the world looking for so-called “pocket-monsters”, also known as Pokémon, who then battle each other. Pokémon Go creates an augmented reality similar to the original series where users wander around their neighbourhood searching for pocket-monsters to “capture”. The monsters (with names such as Pikachu and Bulbasaur), pop-up on your phone as if they were there in real life.

But besides ensuring hours of pleasure for users on quest, what are the health benefits of hunting virtual monsters in your neighbourhood? Despite some people being worried about safety, we found five ways this popular app might not be not such a bad idea for your health.

1. It’s good exercise

Walking around is good for your health and it’s impossible to get far in Pokémon Go without walking a lot. Regular exercise lowers the risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes and even colon cancer. Hatching an egg in the game increases the distance you have to walk and it can expect between 2 and 5 km to complete the incubation. The app is based on GPS location, but it will very difficult to play the game and drive at the same time. This forces one to get active and walk around the neighbourhood.

Read: All you need to know about Pokemon Go

2. You get fresh air and sunlight

Numerous studies have indicated breathing outside (unpolluted) air is good for your mood and general health. Vitamin D from the extra sunlight can help absorb calcium and promote bone growth. Just make sure you apply sunscreen when you go outside.  

3. It improves your mental health

Many people who suffer from depression or other mental health problems are claiming Pokémon Go forces them to get out of bed and do something fun. Although research has not examined a possible link, anecdotal evidence on social media suggest the app give users as sense of purpose and lifts their mood.

Read: Pokemon Go overtakes Tinder and will soon surpass Twitter

4. You make new friends

Experts are often warning that technology is driving us apart, but Pokémon Go actually brings people together. While scouting the streets, you meet fellow-gamers who are just as enthusiastic as you are about the game. Setting a lure at a so-called “Pokéstop” literally brings strangers together and you can share tips and advice on how to catch those sought-after creatures. Many researchers agree friends improve our overall mental health.

5. It can make you smarter

It might sound like a bit of stretch, but while playing the game, you can learn facts about your environment. Many Pokéstops include landmarks and historical markers, and the visual and analytical skills you need to find them could improve your cognitive health.

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