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Yes, we are serious – apparently playing Pokemon Go has real-life positive health benefits, including increased social interaction and exercise.

Do you want to be the very best, like no one ever was? Real-life positive health consequences of playing Pokémon Go - a new GPS-based augmented reality game - are happening. According to Matt Hoffman, DNP, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Nursing, this quest to “catch ‘em all” is great news for public health.

Players, known as “trainers,” download the Pokémon Go game to their smartphones. To progress in the game, trainers must walk around to find and catch Pokémon and access specific locations called Pokéstops - where Pokéballs and other useful items are collected. Poké eggs are among the things that can be collected at these locations. Getting to Pokéstops, catching different Pokémon and hatching the Poké eggs requires walking; lots of walking.

“Playing the game is a lot of fun, and it has been a catalyst to get people moving,” said Hoffman who has been affectionately dubbed the “Pokémon Professor” by co-workers.

“What began as just playing the game has now become a hobby for me that provides health benefits,” Hoffman continued. “There’s no doubt about it, I am exercising more as a result of playing the game, and I am enjoying it.” Hoffman isn’t alone. Estimates of the number of Pokémon Go daily users range from nine to 21 million people, and this user base is growing daily. In addition to inspiring exercise, playing Pokémon Go may have additional benefits.

“There is a sense of community when trainers converge in search of Pokémon, or when they gather together at Pokéstops,” Hoffman said. “The game is bringing people together, providing opportunity for social interaction and increasing our sense of belonging, which can have a positive impact on our emotional and mental health.”

Additionally, families may find that Pokémon Go lessens the technology tension that divides the generations. “This is a relatively non-violent game, and I have seen families walking around playing the game together,” Hoffman said. “Or, it encourages parents to go outside with their children while they play. Pokémon Go has the ability to transport families away from an evening on the couch to walking around the neighbourhood.”

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