Downloaded by millions in the week since release, the game App that blends the real world and the not-so-real Pokémon world, has millions of people of all ages and fitness levels outside collecting Pikachus and Jigglypuffs bringing genuine benefits to health.

It has been been notoriously difficult to motivate people to participate in exercise despite the known benefits in many areas of physical and mental health. Many Apps and on-line programmes have attempted to motivate people to participate in exercise or even to get people with mental health problems out of the house,  with poor short and long term outcomes,.  The benefits exposure to nature in parks and green spaces give to mental health have also been well established and in the space of seven days it is reported that more people are using the app than Tinder and possibly Twitter, all out and about capturing the Pokémon or walking the 5 km required to hatch a Pokemon ( walking on a treadmill will not hatch an egg, the game tracks your movement using GPS, not a pedometer.)

The game also has people discovering new, interesting things in their area and city, capturing pokemon and being rewarded for leaving the house without forcing social interaction. Although it is too early to assess other than by observing social media posts, short term benefits to the mental health of people suffering from anxiety and depression have been overwhelming, far out-performing the many mental health apps that encourage people to track their moods or  offer encouraging affirmations.

The risks associated with playing have been related to players being oblivious to their surroundings whilst playing, inappropriately trying to play whilst driving a motor vehicle,  armed robbers using the App to mug unsuspecting players, playing in inappropriate areas such as war memorials and sacred sites, trespassing and concerns regarding the level of access to private information to the App that may be vulnerable to hackers. Overall, the benefits are impressive and the future links to fitbits , education and even socializing via group meetings impressive.

<- Back to: News