Can Pokemon Go really improve your health?

It’s common nowadays to hear that gaming can have negative impacts on your life, but what if Pokemon Go can turn that on its head? That’s right! A game centred around bringing this nostalgic childhood experience into the modern tech-focused world, can, in fact, have real, positive benefits.

For starters, the game relies on Pokemon trainers to walk in an effort to catch as many as possible. People who normally live quite sedentary lifestyles are getting more physical exercise as a result, without even knowing it. Just as an anecdote, in the TouchSurgery offices, lunches are no longer spent gathered around tables, but rather outside, in the sun, rain and wind to see what crosses your path. The very traditional ‘Good Morning’ messages have been replaced with excitement about the Pokemon caught last night on the way home from work. Twitter is awash with messages that credit the app to their recent dramatic weight loss, a problem that persists for a huge number of people. A doctor can advise a patient to increase exercise but cannot provide the final motivation, which this game can.

Another major benefit has been how the game seems to have the power to touch such a huge variety of people. Even those who have taken a step back from society due to mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. Research very strongly links the benefits of increased exercise with a decrease in mental health issues, but the challenge so far has been, how do you motivate a person who can feel so low? The game has been a remarkable story with its ability to bring this group people back into the community so that they once again feel involved. It motivates them and perhaps most importantly gives them a sense of achievement. There are an estimated 45 million patients with mental health issues in the United States alone, so with the incredible reach of the app, it also offers incredible hope.

A caveat which I should mention is that whilst this game is hugely influential in motivating patients, it cannot be seen as a cure. But more as a means of combination therapy to improve patient compliance.
Augmented reality has been around on the fringes a number of years now, but Pokemon Go has brought that to the forefront. Showing that it is possible for technology to practically integrate into everyday lives of consumers. Perhaps a huge number of its user might not even specifically understand the term but it is already influencing their lives. In the near future, this tech will become a mainstay trying to the bridge the gap between fantasy and reality.

As for me, the game has become an instant hit to be used as an icebreaker. What better way to start a conversation than to talk about something that straight away connects with their childhood too?

 

By Pranay Balijepalli