An initial evaluation of the impact of Pokémon GO on physical activity

Ying Xian, Hanzhang Xu, Haolin Xu, Li Liang, Adrian F. Hernandez, Tracy Y. Wang, Eric D. Peterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Background- Pokémon GO is a location-based augmented reality game. Using GPS and the camera on a smartphone, the game requires players to travel in real world to capture animated creatures, called Pokémon. We examined the impact of Pokémon GO on physical activity (PA). Methods and Results- A pre-post observational study of 167 Pokémon GO players who were self-enrolled through recruitment flyers or online social media was performed. Participants were instructed to provide screenshots of their step counts recorded by the iPhone Health app between June 15 and July 31, 2016, which was 3 weeks before and 3 weeks after the Pokémon GO release date. Of 167 participants, the median age was 25 years (interquartile range, 21-29 years). The daily average steps of participants at baseline was 5678 (SD, 2833; median, 5718 [interquartile range, 3675-7279]). After initiation of Pokémon GO, daily activity rose to 7654 steps (SD, 3616; median, 7232 [interquartile range, 5041-9744], pre-post change: 1976; 95% CI, 1494-2458, or a 34.8% relative increase [P < 0.001]). On average, 10 000 "XP" points (a measure of game progression) was associated with 2134 additional steps per day (95% CI, 1673-2595), suggesting a potential dose-response relationship. The number of participants achieving a goal of 10 000+ steps per day increased from 15.3% before to 27.5% after (odds ratio, 2.06; 95% CI, 1.70-2.50). Increased PA was also observed in subgroups, with the largest increases seen in participants who spent more time playing Pokémon GO, those who were overweight/obese, or those with a lower baseline PA level. Conclusions- Pokémon GO participation was associated with a significant increase in PA among young adults. Incorporating PA into gameplay may provide an alternative way to promote PA in persons who are attracted to the game.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere005341
JournalJournal of the American Heart Association
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Exercise
  • Mobile games
  • Physical exercise

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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