POKEMON Go has a “tantalising side-effect” of increased exercise for players, according to an article in a leading medical journal.
The game is not marketed as a health app but gamers do a lot of walking during play, the editorial in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) states.
The popular app has made the streets of Britain a “reclaimed playground in which to have interconnected fun”, wrote the author, Dr Margaret McCartney.
The Glasgow GP highlights some of the pros and cons that have been reported since the game was launched.
One player walked 140 miles (225km) and lost two stone (12.7kg) while collecting all of the characters, she said, highlighting claims that the app could ease the burden of obesity and Type 2 diabetes.
However, these claims are not from scientific studies but anecdotal evidence, she cautions.
Dr McCartney also highlights some of the problems that have come to the fore including; emergency services having to rescue players from caves or the sea and criminal activity such as the teens who were robbed at gunpoint in London.
She wrote: “Pokemon Go can and should be made safer. Like most things, playing it has a mix of benefit and risk.”
She added: “We never hear about the things that didn’t happen: the heart attacks prevented through more exercise, or the vitamin D deficiency that geeks have avoided, blinking in the sunlight while catching a Pikachu monster.
“Most health apps that promote physical activity tend to get users who want to be healthy. Pokemon Go isn’t marketed as a health app, but players still end up doing a lot of walking.”
She concludes: “The possibilities for apps to make the streets an active, reclaimed playground in which to have interconnected fun are boundless. Increased physical activity is a tantalising side-effect. Game on.”