The idea of a hardcore gamer often conjures up an image of a person sitting on a couch or computer chair intensely drawn into the screen; downloading Pokemon ROM Hacks, rapidly smashing buttons and shouting statements like “Kill the dragon!” Because of this image, competitive gamers are often perceived as lazy. I personally don’t think that’s the case. In fact, it takes a lot of focus and determination to be the best at anything, including a game.
When Pokemon Go came out a month ago, I wasn’t surprised to see all those gamers running around on the streets. This is because, unlike most other games, Pokemon Go is an augmented reality location-based game. Thus, in order to catch Pokémon, you need to physically go to where they’ve spawned. For instance, if you want to catch water-type Pokémon, you should head to a body of water (e.g. a river). If you want more items and Pokemon, you need to go to geo-tagged locations called Pokestops. And, if you want to take over a Pokemon gym, you have to fight on location.
Because of all this walking, people have been asking whether you can use Pokemon Go to lose weight. The answer: yes, but you need to be strategic about it.
“From a fitness standpoint, the reason I like Pokemon Go is because it gives me a very fun reward system for the amount of time and distance I put into both my runs and walking while playing that game,” said Chrono to LabRoots. Chrono (not his real name) is a hardcore gamer who usually spends his gaming hours keeping up his Diamond rank in League of Legends (that’s a huge time commitment).
"There are a lot of incentives in the game that make me want to explore and move,” he continues. "Particularly since the eggs in the game, which can give you very rare pokemon, can only be opened by walking distances - not driving. [The distance required to open] the eggs range from 2 km to 10 km, so if you’re running a couple miles a day, you’ll be hatching eggs at a very quick rate.” Plus, opening eggs gives you XP (experience points), which you need to level up and become stronger. "So not only are you achieving success in the game, but you’re also achieving goals that you want for your own self physically.”
Let’s put this into perspective.
First of all, for those confused by the metric system:
According to Forbes, the average Pokemon Go player is a 25-year old white female college graduate who makes $90,000 a year. The average weight of an American non-hispanic white woman between the ages of 20 and 39 is 164.4 pounds, according to data collected by the Center for Disease Control between 2007 and 2010. The average 25-year-old most likely weighs less than the average 39-year-old. Walking speed varies, but the human preferred walking speed is 3.1 miles per hour. Women likely prefer to walk at a slower pace than men (due to height).
While I can’t make an accurate estimate on the average weight and walking speed of the average Pokemon Go player, perhaps those stats can lend some insight. For instance, it would be realistic to assume there are Pokemon Go players who weigh 150 pounds and walk at an average speed of 3 miles per hour. If a person wants to open a 5 km egg while walking at 3 mph, that would take 62 minutes. A 150-pound person walking at 3 mph would burn approximately 414.7 kcal over the course of 62 minutes. Plus, they might hatch a rare Pokemon.
Pokemon Go players have taken to social media to share their weight loss stories.
Like this one by Kayleigh Zara:
Today my family were like "you've lost some weight, you look so healthy" and I was like " been walking 10km a day with Pokemon go"— Kayleigh Zara (@KayleighZara) July 30, 2016
And this one:
I've lost almost a stone in two weeks thanks to #PokemonGO - that's the best progress I've ever made with any weight loss attempts.— Solheim (@NorthSeaStorm) July 29, 2016
Chrono himself has lost 15 pounds since playing Pokemon Go.
Thousands have also spoken out on how Pokemon Go has alleviated their anxiety and improved their mental health. Many with depression and anxiety find it difficult to leave their houses and to speak with people. The game has pushed them to take a major step forward by forcing them to explore new places and interact with people.
As I finish writing this article, I compare my Pokemon lineup to Chrono's and realize I need to up my game.
In fact, if there's any hope for me to catch up, I need to start running.
Sources: source: Verywell, Vital and Health Statistic from the Center for Disease Control, “More Women Than Men Are Playing Pokemon Go” via Forbes.com, "‘Pokemon Go’ Demographics: More Women Play Game Than Men” via Heavy.com, Gamezebo