Aside from the safety concerns – there have been reports of accidents and public nuisance – this game offers some real health benefits. Players often walk for miles as they hunt for the next Pikachu or Mankey. The average player right now spends 43 minutes a day on the game, which equates to roughly 200 calories burned, depending on the person’s size and walking speed. Players who collect eggs can “hatch” them by walking between two kilometers and 10 kilometers (the game uses kilometers to measure distance). And since many players simply walk and walk in search of Pokémon, they can cover a lot of ground in a day. As an added challenge, certain Pokémon are found only in mountainous areas, forcing players to hike uphill to find them.
The game’s makers urge users to never play Pokémon Go while riding a bike or hoverboard, or while driving a car or doing anything else that requires full attention. Although the usual warnings about the dangers of video game addiction apply (http://bit.ly/2a9zZch), some players are reporting improvement in symptoms of anxiety and depression (http://ind.pn/29XTsQy).
For those who walk as they play, “Pokéxercise” can provide excellent health benefits. Caroline Shugart, a Registered Nurse and Registered Dietitian in the Logan Regional Hospital Dialysis Center, says walking is a great form of exercise.
“Not only does it helps maintain your heart and lung function, but it’s easy on the joints and safe,” Caroline says. “Walking can reduce the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer that plague our society. But it is also very versatile. It can be done solo or in a group, in a neighborhood, or out in nature.”
Caroline says the goal for most Americans is to walk 10,000 steps per day (about five miles). She recommends trying to walk a little more each day and work up to this goal, and wearing a pedometer to turn walking into a fun exercise game for the family, with competitions and prizes.
“To maintain healthy brain function and memory, exercise throughout your lifetime is essential,” Caroline says. “Walking is a great way to experience the world, both at home and when traveling.”
Intermountain Healthcare’s LiVe Well program offers the following tips for anyone interested in starting a walking program (with or without the smartphone):
Why start a walking program?
Regular, brisk walking will help you:
• Prevent or manage serious health conditions, like high blood pressure, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
• Improve vital body functions, including memory, balance, coordination, circulation, and bone strength.
• Maintain a healthy weight — or lose weight.
• Feel better. Walking reduces stress and depression, increases energy, improves sleep, and improves mood. These benefits won’t come all at once, though. This is about building a lifelong habit that will pay off in the long run.
How fast and how far do I need to go?
If you’re not exercising at all, then start with walking 10 minutes a day. After a week or two, try increasing to 20 minutes a day. Keep building up a little every week. Aim for the targets below for the greatest benefits.
• How long: If you’re walking for general health, build up to 150 minutes per week — or about 30 minutes on most days. If you’re trying to lose weight, aim for 250 to 300 minutes per week — or 60 minutes on most days. If you can’t get it all in at once, break it up into as little as 10 minutes at a time.
• How fast: Walk at a somewhat vigorous pace — so you breathe a little harder than normal. If can still talk in complete sentences, you’re about right. If you can sing a song, try picking up the pace a little. The benefits come from a brisk walk, not a stroll.
To build up, increase just one thing at a time: go one more day per week, add few more minutes per day, or walk a little faster. Do what works for you.