We’ve already gone over the fact that fitness trackers and fitness apps in general aren’t actually particularly helpful in getting people to move more, but new data pulled by Tim Althoff, Ryen W. White, and Eric Horvitz at Microsoft Research may make us step back and reconsider for a moment.
The team found that the popular augmented reality game Pokemon Go has added a total of 144 billion steps to US physical activity. It isn’t sticking to a single demographic either, “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”.
This is massive as previous health apps have only been able to preach to the converted, people who are already active. Pokemon Go on the other hand has been able to reach the sedentary masses and get them (myself included) outside more.
The app has steadily bled its userbase after it’s record breaking launch but the studies results found that if people stuck with it it could add an estimated 2,825 million years of additional lifetime to its US users alone.
It upped peoples activity by 26% or 1,473 steps a day. Still shy of the 10k people are supposed to walk each day, but it’s a start!
When the app launched there were health warnings due to people using while driving (you can severely impact your life longevity if you plow headfirst into a tree for example), and there were a few health professionals that pointed out the health benefits that the app could promote. It hasn’t been until now however, since the dust has settled, that we’ve been able to measure the effects.
So from here we may have found an effective way to get people healthier of their own accord, the only question now is how to keep people flicking pokeballs at imaginary creatures?