PEI

Why Pokemon Go fitness benefits could be fleeting: UPEI professor weighs in

A P.E.I.-based researcher is skeptical about the long-term physical benefits of games like Pokemon Go — and says that like buying a gym membership as a New Year's resolution, it appears playing Pokemon Go is not a long-term solution for becoming physically fit.

Achievemint fitness app tracks steps of Pokemon Go players

Pokemon Go got people outside and walking, but it appears that only lasted a few weeks. (Mark Kauzlarich/Reuters)

A P.E.I.-based researcher is skeptical about the long-term physical benefits of games like Pokemon Go — and says that like buying a gym membership as a New Year's resolution, it appears playing Pokemon Go is not a long-term solution for becoming physically fit.

Travis Saunders, an applied human science professor at the University of Prince Edward Island, has been reviewing data from a fitness app called Achievemint.

Achievemint asked its users to allow the tracking of steps before and after the purchase of the Pokemon Go game as a research project. The data is not yet published or fully analyzed.

The data looks at 1718 users — 340 of whom completed an additional 25-question survey. Of the millions of Pokemon Go users, Saunders noted this is "not an ideal sample, but it's the only data I've seen so far, which is better than nothing."

UPEI researcher Travis Saunders says he wasn't surprised that fitness levels dropped off after a few weeks. (courtesy Travis Saunders)

"There was a boost in physical activity levels in people that signed up to play Pokemon Go," said Saunders.

"It was about a thousand steps a day, but what they also saw was that that only lasted few weeks."

Results similar to previous active gaming studies

Saunders said that is not surprising. Research into the well-intentioned purchase of gym memberships, and previous active gaming technologies like Nintendo Wii, shows similar results.

"It was interesting to see it followed the exact same pattern. It got people active, but after they got used to it they dropped back to where they were before," he said.

In order to have long-term fitness benefits, people need to change long-term fitness habits. (Carlos Jasso/Reuters)

"People need to be conscious that these games might not be increasing activity levels as much as they would like," said Saunders.

Saunders acknowledged some people may see a long-lasting benefit from playing the game, but the research suggests that is not the case for the majority.

With files from Island Morning

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