24 October 2016

The healthcare benefits of Pokemon Go

Critics have raised questions about safety and privacy but some argue that the hit mobile game has therapeutic benefits. Can chasing imaginary monsters really be good for you?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will have heard of the new mobile game Pokémon Go. Within the first two weeks of its release, Pokémon Go became one of the most popular mobile games of all time with over 15 million downloads.

The game encourages players to leave the house and exercise while searching the streets for animated characters called Pokémon, which appear on their smartphone screens by creatively using augmented reality to bring the creatures to life. Naturally, some people dismiss it as just a game or passing fad, but there are many others who proudly state that Pokémon Go is the best thing that has happened to them, despite the critics.

People from all over the world that suffer from depression and anxiety have started reporting that after playing the game for some time, they feel more energetic and they’re less prone to negative feelings.

They have even taken to twitter to praise the game:

@RayRossTheBoss PokemonGo is so therapeutic. It's breaking down all of my social anxiety. I've met so many cool people so far.

Pokémon Go has also helped increase activity levels for some who have previously struggled with exercise, previously going for a 20 minute walk was a Herculean task… but now, they’ll willingly walk anywhere from 2km to 10km just to hatch a few Pokémon eggs. 

@PozziePHL Pokemon Go somehow helps me divert my attention to something else and get through health anxiety.

Increased activity can help you feel better. When you exercise endorphins are released and you feel happier. Feelings of depression or unhappiness can diminish or even disappear because your body is active.

An idle mind is a devil’s workshop and Pokémon Go leaves you very little time to be idle. There can be a mental shift within you that could make you feel better.

The game has even been seen to help in a clinical setting with C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Michigan using Pokémon Go as a tool to help get patients out of their rooms. Use of the game soon encouraged interaction with fellow patients and hospital staff.

J.J Bouchard, child life specialist at the Hospital, said “It’s a fun way to encourage patients to be mobile. This app is getting patients out of beds and moving around”. Jigna Patel, whose son is receiving treatment at the hospital added; "You can see the kids take their minds off the pain and the treatments that they're going through. I could see the difference. The kids were having a blast."

This story was originally published in the Autumn 2016 Edition of Newcross News.

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