How Pokémon Go Can REALLY Benefit Health & Fitness


By UK Personal Trainer |

James Griffiths

Unless you have been living under a rock, you may have heard of a new mobile app called Pokémon Go – and, if you haven’t, then this is an explanation for people everywhere wandering about recently!

The aim of the game is to walk around your local area and catch all 150 Pokemon. At various points of historical interest, there are checkpoints where you can pick up supplies.

One of the items you can get are eggs – these require you to walk either 2, 5 or 10km before they can hatch, which brings me to the point of this article…

Could this app be making people, fitter and maybe even increase social interaction?

Can Walking Make A Difference?

In my opinion, walking is a very underrated form of exercise – and many don’t realise the benefits it can have on your overall health!

Day-to-day, we all walk various distances depending on factors such as:

How active is your job is

 Whether you walk to and from work

Walking for general well-being

This kind of walking falls under the label of NEAT (Non-exercise activity thermogenesis). This this is the energy expenditure outside of sleeping, eating or structured training, so already Pokémon Go – in regards to egg hatching – is increasing energy expenditure/calorie burn, by anywhere from 2km upwards!

Activity Avg. calories burned per hour
Walking 270

Benefits Of Walking… Explained

For the gym/fitness newbie, walking is a low intensity introduction to exercise, therefore easily helping to increase breathing rate (which will help fat oxidation) and there is a further reduced risk of feeling intimidated through lack of knowledge! In those needing to drop larger amounts of weight, the reduced intensity is more beneficial when protecting ligaments and tendons from excessive forces.

In addition to this, when trying to reduce weight or body fat, most will do a little bit of reading and read of the great success people have from HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and naturally want to start there. Although this is a quick and effective way of training, it may not be for best choice for everyone!

Is Walking Better Than The Gym… For ME?

Let’s use stress as an example to explain the above…

1) The world we live in is fast-paced and often stressful, with work deadlines, social pressures, families, relationships etc. When we are under stress the body secretes a hormone called cortisol, and this can have a very damaging effect on our health both physically and mentally.

2) Exercise then increases our cortisol levels, especially under intense exercise, so if you, personally, have a lot of emotional and mental stress already, a HIIT session may cause an even greater spike in cortisol levels. Therefore, for the time being, it may benefit your health to just get out and about and enjoy a simple walk.

Why You Should REDUCE Stress To Lose Weight

For highly stressed individuals, weight or fat loss may be incredibly difficult. Just one reason for this could be related to the significant release of cortisol (stress hormone), which has a catabolic effect (breaking down)- on muscle tissue. This decrease in muscle mass will leads to a decrease in metabolism and potentially an increase in fat storage.

Furthermore, as exercise is a form of stress on the body, some people may find that hard work in the gym may just make things worse!

Walking on the other hand is very low intensity and can reduce levels of stress, so you can use this as a method to firstly reduce your stress and gain mental clarity through taking in fresh air and generally being in a calmer state. Following this, you may begin your intense training. Long term this will give you much better fat loss results!

“I’m An Advanced Gym-Goer.
Can Pokémon Go Help Me Lose Fat?”

So what about the more experienced gym user? How can Pokémon Go help you?

For those involved in regular gym training, your goal might be to reduce body fat with the end goal of having a defined physique. Many people – especially avid gym goers – may already be performing Low Intensity Steady State cardio pokemon go(LISS) coupled with HIIT training and weight training. And for some, the long slow cardio may be the bit that you prefer least!

Here’s where Pokémon Go might help…

When individuals walk, approximately two thirds of the energy demands are met by beta oxidation (the process that utilises fat for fuel). At lower intensities the body will happily metabolise fat as it can efficiently do so (fat metabolism is not as efficient a process as carbohydrate metabolism – therefore at higher intensities, the body will prefer carbohydrate metabolism).

As a result, avid gym goers may want to take a break from machines, get outside, catch some Pokémon and lean-up!

Take Home Message

It is doubtful that Pokémon Go will be the secret to achieving your desired physique – but that’s not the point!

If people happen to lose 5-10lbs because of it or simply increase their fitness levels because they are walking 10km more each week, then that is only a good thing.

Let’s go catch Pokémon… Erm, increase beta oxidation for a leaner physique!

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