"Pokémon Go" fanatics, rejoice! Your collection addiction may pay off in the long run, in the form of a longer life.
That is, if you keep playing at the same frenetic pace — for the rest of your life.
Researchers at Stanford University and Microsoft just came out with a study that found that "Pokémon Go" significantly increased physical activity levels for die-hard players — many of whom were not active before they started playing the wildly popular game. In fact, engaging in the scavenger-hunt-type game led to a more than 25 percent increase in players’ activity levels over 30 days.
That, researchers estimated, adds up to an extra 41 days of life expectancy for players ages 15 to 49 who keep up their addictive habit of searching for and catching virtual Pokemon characters as they walk around with their mobile phone game.
“In the short time span of the study, we estimate that 'Pokémon Go' has added a total of 144 billion steps to U.S. physical activity,” the researchers said in the study. “Furthermore, 'Pokémon Go' has been able to increase physical activity across men and women of all ages, weight status and prior activity levels showing this form of game leads to increases in physical activity with significant implications for public health.”
The connection between exercise and reduced risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes is well-documented. Still, many adults and children are not getting the recommended amounts of physical activity to maintain a healthy weight and ward off future diseases.
There are other mobile health apps that set out to prod people to become more active. But so far, they haven’t been able to reach the people who most need it — the couch potato set.
In the study, scientists tracked people through a combination of wearable sensor data and search engine logs for 32,000 users.
The researchers acknowledged the challenge of keeping people engaged for years in a game that already is showing signs of fading in popularity. It peaked this summer but reportedly has had fewer players since the start of fall.
“To Your Health” offers quick doses of health news several times a week.