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Health Benefits Of Playing Pokemon Go Are Short-Lived

The sudden surge in popularity of the augmented reality game Pokemon Go a few months ago was met with a rising concern regarding public safety for many. Players had taken to wandering into less-than-appropriate location like Holocaust museums, into dark alleys and forests, over rivers and bridges.

In fact, the game came under scrutiny after it supposedly caused several criminal occurrences in cities across the United States. But those looking for a bright side noted that at least players were getting some exercise, as the game requires plenty of walking.

Now, a study from Harvard University debunks this, stating that the fitness boost is only a temporary benefit, the BBC reports. Researchers found that avid players walked an average of an extra 955 steps a day in the first week of using Pokemon Go.

However, this exertion soon dwindled and by the sixth week, players were not taking any more additional steps than they had been before they started the game. The authors wrote,

Pokemon Go has been suggested to improve public health by promoting physical activity. In our study population, however, the results indicate that the health impact of Pokemon Go might be moderate.

They also said, “Interventions designed to increase walking typically increase the number of steps by 2,500 daily. Even if smaller amounts of physical activity might also be important for health outcomes, the increase in steps from Pokemon Go, as with many physical activity interventions was not sustained over time.” In addition, “Pokémon GO might also entail risks, such as injuries and road traffic incidents.”

The researchers examined 560 Pokemon Go players who had achieved trainer level of five or up, compared to 600 people who had not downloaded the game.

All participants were between the ages of 18-35, and used an iPhone 6, which automatically registers the number of steps its owner takes.

While Pokemon Go smashed download records when it was launched in July, it fell off the list of top apps soon enough as the novelty wore off. Katherine Howe, co-author on the study, says that despite their results, there is still a “huge potential” for games like these to benefit people’s health.

The study was published in the British Medical Journal.

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