Worried your kid's not healthy? Study says play Pokémon Go

If you worry about your video game-loving children becoming couch potatoes: encourage them to play Pokémon Go.

It turns out catching a Pikachu or Bulbasaur could be good for their bodies and minds.

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A new study said playing Pokémon Go is associated with a set of beneficial health behaviors, like physical activity and socialization, which can improve mood.

A game that makes you get up

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Last November, lead researcher Oriol Marquet and his team at North Carolina State University conducted a study on the effects of playing the augmented reality game.

Marquet said Pokémon Go “piqued our interest, and we started thinking about how the game could impact young people’s behavior” and how it relates to outdoor time, leisure and physical activity.

They found game participants reported roughly 35 percent higher levels of physical activity and boosted levels of socialization.

Players also said they enjoyed improved positive moods as a result of playing Pokémon Go. A bonus side effect? Increased focus.

Skip the gym to catch ’em all?

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The researchers installed an ecological momentary assessment tool and step counter on a group of teenage Pokemon Go players’ phones and prompted each participant to answer questions about playing behavior and physical activity three times a day for a week at a time.

Researchers identified three distinct motives for playing among the players: people who already liked Pokémon, people who were curious about the social aspects of the game and people looking for exercise.

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According to Marquet, walking to find Pokémon works the same way any other exercise does for mood improvement, triggering endorphins and producing positive feelings.

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Researchers surmised walking to different locations seeking Pokémon boosted physical activity levels leading to overall improved moods.

Exercise actually can be fun

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The study ultimately revealed the potential successful impact that “exergames” could have on health and well-being.

Marquet said he hopes future game designers use this research to continue to create more games that will continue to benefit health and well-being.

“We should see from this study that it’s possible for games like Pokémon Go to improve players’ awareness of their personal activity levels,” Marquet said.

Where are you and your family going next to complete your Pokémon collection?

Watch: A beginner’s guide to Pokémon Go

Watch: 5 things we learned from Pokémon Go

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