Nicole and I took my dad and uncle out for dinner to Luca Bella in downtown Glendora this week.
We sat outside and had a great evening together. As we were eating, my uncle remarked at the inordinate amount of young people out walking together. He asked, “is there something going on tonight? There are a ton of kids out!”
“Oh, they’re just playing Pokémon Go,” Nicole replied.
“Pokémon? Like the Pokémon you played when you were a kid?” questioned my dad.
“Sort of,” I answered. “It’s an app/video game that forces players to walk in order to catch Pokémon or advance in the game.”
Pokémon Go, an augmented reality game from Nintendo, is a silent assassin when it comes to fitness. If you’re unaware of this current cultural phenomenon, the game is simple. Pikachu and all his Pokémon friends are out in the real world waiting to be captured, meaning you actually need to get out into the neighborhood to explore and find Pokémon.
Why It’s So Amazing
Yes there have been horror stories of people stopping in the middle of the freeway to catch Pikachu and don’t get me started on the poor neck posture people use when looking down at their phones. But, Pokémon Go is getting young people out exercising.
We’ve seen more people (even adults) out walking in the past few days than ever before. And most of them are playing Pokémon Go.
Our mission at Village Fitness Glendora is to get people long-term results. A huge component of seeing long-term results is increasing your activity level throughout the day.
Increasing activity could be traditional exercises like running, cycling, lifting weights, our Saturday morning park workout, etc.
But, increasing activity can be as simple as standing or walking more during the day.
The extra calories burned from non-exercise activities are called NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis). These are calories we burn from things other than sleeping, eating, and traditional exercise.
Pokémon Go players are getting lavish amounts of NEAT as they safari around the neighborhood scouring for Pokémon.
There is something about traditional exercise that causes people to justify eating more or making poor eating choices. We think, “I did 45 minutes on the elliptical today. Therefore I can have an extra lemon bar.” The problem is that we often eat more calories than we’ve burned during exercise.
The neat thing about NEAT calorie burn is that it’s sneaky. People usually don’t register calories burned from walking or standing as exercise. They don’t see it as “worthy” of a caloric reward. The extra calories burned become a caloric deficit which leads to weight loss.
Sore Legs Pandemic
Pokémon Go players are accidentally getting a metric ton of exercise every day.
I asked a few guys playing outside of Village Fitness yesterday how long they had been out for.
“We’ve been out since 8am!”
Teenagers…out getting exercise all day long? That’s amazing.
(There seems to be a Pidgeotto Pokémon living outside of Village Fitness Glenodora if you’re looking for one!)
A friend recently told me her legs were extremely sore. She had walked 11 miles the previously day hunting for rare Pokémon!
Instead of sitting down and watching TV or playing video games all day, kids are out walking for miles (even 10 or more) throughout the day while playing the game.
One cool feature of the game is the manner in which Pokémon eggs hatch. Players have to walk long distances (2km, 5km, or 10km) to get their Pokémon eggs to “hatch”. Sound confusing?
The app doesn’t give credit for moving at more than 20mph, so users can’t cheat by driving. Plus, you shouldn’t be playing Pokémon Go while driving!
I Hope It Stays
With ever-advancing technology, kids have less and less reason to get outside and play.
With Pokémon Go, people are outside walking long distances.
“But they are still glued to their phones!” you say.
Yes, they are. BUT they are moving while glued to their phones. Hordes of kids and adults are out getting exercise they would otherwise not be getting.
So, I say keep playing.
Grab your phone. Open up the app. Wear a hat and some sunscreen. Stay hydrated. Pack some healthy snacks. Don’t play while driving. Look both ways before crossing the street. Don’t play Pokémon alone, late at night, in suspicious places. Go for a long walk and be sure you catch em’ all.