Pokémon Go, a virtual-reality app that requires players to navigate their surroundings in search of animated creatures, got people to log lots of extra steps last summer, according to researchers from Duke University in North Carolina.
The researchers found that Pokémon Go players were twice as likely to walk at least 10,000 steps per day as they were before downloading the app. They determined this by studying the habits of 167 individuals who used the app in July 2016. Each participant provided the researchers with screen shots featuring steps taken prior to the program’s release and then during the first month that it was available. Prior to the app’s release, subjects had averaged 5,678 steps per day. The average jumped to 7,654 steps per day when they began using the app.
Hanzhang Xu, a graduate student at Duke University School of Nursing, said an increase of nearly 2,000 daily steps can reduce a high-risk person’s chances of experiencing a cardiac event by 8%.
“Considering the low level of physical activity in the United States, doing some physical activity is always better than sitting on the couch,” she said in a press release. “While current physical activity guidelines recommend activity such as running or swimming to promote health and fitness, it should be noted that the best form of physical activity is the one that people will do. We think our study could have implications for the design of other digital health interventions that encourage people to exercise more.”