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The Pokémon Go Revolution - What Public Policy Couldn't Do

>> Thursday, July 21, 2016

We've all seen it: Pokémon Go users are everywhere!  Since it's launch earlier this month, we have seen people everywhere, more enraptured by their smart phones than ever before, playing the game with a joyous enthusiasm.

The engagement in Pokémon Go is paying off in physical activity.  Tracking devices such as Jawbone have seen a major increase in physical activity since the game was launched:

We have never seen any public policy or population based strategy have such an incredible effect on physical activity.  I had a patient in my office this week (who had just found a Pokémon under my examination table) tell me that the game had caused her family's 15 minute walk to turn into a 45 minute adventure where the family enjoyed extra fun time together, and a whole lot more exercise! These stories are abundant on social media.  So cool!

I felt like a massive LED light went on in my brain when I heard about this game - of course!  What a great way to motivate activity, by blending a fun smartphone game with real life exercise.  While this particular game may be a fad, I'm sure that other games are now in hot pursuit to develop the next ones.  I hope that this is the beginning of what may be one of the most successful (and hopefully sustainable) population level 'interventions' to motivate physical activity.

A note to be careful when using this or other games - there have been reports of people falling off of cliffs and standing in freeways playing the game, or playing the game in sensitive places like graveyards - do be careful and mindful when you are enjoying your Pokémon Go adventures.

Follow me on twitter! @drsuepedersen © 2016



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