New Brunswick

Pokemon Go getting people moving in Fredericton

Daily hour-long walks might be new to some Fredericton residents playing Pokemon Go but one UNB professor wants to know how long it will last.

The popular mobile app based on Nintendo characters is getting everyone outside again

Anna Cormier normally has to wait until Cameron's bed time before she can play Pokemon Go. (Stephanie Sirois/CBC)

The new Pokemon Go mobile app is doing what millions of government dollars and studies couldn't do — it's getting kids and adults off the couch and moving.

Since the Canadian release of the game on Sunday, hundreds of players have been wandering Fredericton at all hours of the day and night, capturing virtual creatures in unusual places.

Anna Cormier says she's been out every day since Monday with her son Cameron and her daughter Mya.

"Going for walks with him was hard. Any mention of the mall or going shopping, there was huge fights and hissy fits and now I just tell him we're going to go catch some Pokemon. It's a hundred per cent better," said Cormier.

Cormier says her family moved to Fredericton in December, but they just discovered Officers' Square, in the city's downtown, in the past week while chasing Pokemon.

App drains battery but not player

Cormier said the first night she downloaded the game, she went out at midnight to catch Pokemon. (Stephanie Sirois/CBC)
She estimates the family has spent at least four hours every day playing on the app before her phone battery dies and she has to use her new car charger.

"You just look around and you know people are playing. I've seen two kids walking around together playing. Walking is just great exercise and just to get them out of the house doing something is, I think, a great advancement," said Cormier.

Gabriela Tymowski-Gionet, a professor in the kinesiology department at the University of New Brunswick, isn't sure the Pokemon Go craze is going to last.

"It's wonderful to see people outside but from my perspective it's a little sad that they aren't looking at the birds, they aren't interacting with other people," she said.

Healthy habits are hard to maintain

Gabriela Tymowski-Gionet wonders if the new habit will be maintained once the novelty of Pokemon Go wears off. (University of New Brunswick Fredericton)
She teaches a course about coaching healthy behaviours, where she helps students look at what happens when new activities are tried and how individuals can make healthy living changes.

"It's really difficult in our day and age … a society where being sedentary is very common for many people, for adults and for children," she said.

Tymowski-Gionet says any amount of physical activity is good she wonders how long the Pokemon Go hype will last.

"This app is brand spanking new. It has just burst onto the market with amazing results," she said.

"My concern is how long is this going to last and what will happen then, will people revert back to their original sedentary lifestyles?"