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‘Pokémon Go’ Gets Thumbs Up From Health Experts

Jul 13, 2016 02:45 AM EDT
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“Pokémon Go” is helping gamers exercise.
(Photo : Jordan Bajc / Flickr)

The popular mobile game "Pokémon Go" is having a positive side effect for gamers, health experts said.

According to health experts, the game is making people become more physically active, and this trend adds a glimmer of hope for this type of gaming technology that has since confined people to chairs.

"For a long time, the advances in technology have promoted reduced physical activity and increased time in sedentary behavior, which comes with well-known health risk," Graham Tomas, assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior at the Miriam Hospital's Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center in Rhode Island, said in an interview with Live Science.

"It's nice to see technology changing and being used in a way that promotes physical activity," Thomas added.

"Pokémon Go" was launched in North America on July 6. The augmented reality game has users walk around - in the real world - to find and capture Pokémons. Users will view the mobile device's camera and catch the Pokémon characters superimposed over the real world objects. Pokémons appear in random locations, so players will have to walk around to find and catch them.

Many "Pokémon Go" players walk miles every day while playing the game, thus increasing their overall physical activity. Gamers tweet about their experiences with the game, saying that they have become active and more sociable.

But "Pokémon Go" is not the first game to require physical activity. Such "exergames" have been popular since 2007 when Nintendo Wii Fit was released.

"Pokémon Go" may involve a fairly light physical activity but health experts say little is still better than staying sedentary.

"Anything that gets people up off their couch ... and out in the real world moving around I think is a wonderful thing," Dr. Michael Jonesco, sports medicine physician at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, told Live Science.

However, health experts still warn players to be careful not to overdo it since it could result to muscle soreness or neck strain.

In a report from Gizmodo, writer Matt Novak gathered a series of tweets from "Pokémon Go" players who are all complaining about sore legs.

"Pokémon Go" could influence further advancements in augmented reality technology, and according to Ezra Klein of Vox.com, it could also open up a whole new world of video gaming where people run and walk instead of just sitting and playing.

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