Nav: Home

Walking with Pokémon

February 05, 2019

Augmented reality is when apps and games overlay a real-time camera feed with images, characters and data to provide all kinds of interactive experiences. Pokémon GO is a very popular augmented reality game and University of Tokyo researchers revealed for the first time how the game positively impacted the physical activity in players over 40. They hope the findings will inform urban planners and game designers to inspire people to be more active.

In November 2014, Yokohama launched the Yokohama Walking Point Program, which aims to improve people's health. This is increasingly important if people wish to enjoy their longer lifespans as the overall age of the population increases. As part of this program, 2,580 participants over 18 were given pedometers which counted the steps they took in a day, and were surveyed on matters including usage of location-based augmented reality games.

From this pool of participants, 230 subjects were chosen with as much in common as possible to avoid other factors contributing to results. Forty-six of them were players of Pokémon GO, and 184 were not. Hino and his team wondered about the implications of these results.

"Game-makers and urban planners could factor what we've learned into their respective activities," continues Hino. "I think Pokémon GO succeeds where physical activity games do not because it's a game first with potential added health benefits. It's possible such games could serve as a gateway to further people's enthusiasm for physical activity."

Another hope is these results inspire urban planners to build more pedestrian areas into urban centers. Hino would like to explore further the connections between augmented reality games and their impact, not just on physical activity itself but on attitudes towards exercise.

"Many middle-aged people grew up with computer games, but the older generation might feel shy about playing them," concludes Hino. "With exercise as an excuse they may play more, thus exercise more. It's a virtuous circle. Maybe we'll see people use cars less and walk or cycle more. There's a lot of Pokémon out there to catch."
-end-
Journal article

Kimihiro Hino, Yasushi Asami, Jung Su Lee. Step Counts of Middle-Aged and Elderly Adults for 10 Months Before and After the Release of Pokémon GO in Yokohama, Japan. Journal of Medical Internet Research. 5 Feb 2019. DOI: 10.2196/10724

Related links

Department of Urban Engineering

Graduate School of Engineering

Research Contact

Associate Professor Kimihiro Hino
Department of Urban Engineering, Graduate School of Engineering, The University of Tokyo
7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8656 JAPAN
Tel: +81-3-5841-6225
Email: hino@ua.t.u-tokyo.ac.jp

Press Contact

Mr. Rohan Mehra
Division for Strategic Public Relations, The University of Tokyo
7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8654 JAPAN
Tel: +81-3-5841-0876
Email: press-releases.adm@gs.mail.u-tokyo.ac.jp

About the University of Tokyo

The University of Tokyo is Japan's leading university and one of the world's top research universities. The vast research output of some 6,000 researchers is published in the world's top journals across the arts and sciences. Our vibrant student body of around 15,000 undergraduate and 15,000 graduate students includes over 2,000 international students. Find out more at https://www.u-tokyo.ac.jp/en/ or follow us on Twitter at @UTokyo_News_en.

This study was funded by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science KAKENHI, grant numbers 25242063, 26249073, 18H01602.

University of Tokyo

Related Physical Activity Articles:

Physical activity may ward off heart damage
Physical activity can lower the risk of heart damage in middle-aged and older adults and reduce the levels of heart damage in people who are obese, according to research published today in JACC: Heart Failure.
How physical activity and sedentary time affect adolescents' bones
A large prospective study in 309 adolescent boys and girls underscores the importance of physical activity for developing bone strength during growth.
Few heart attack survivors get recommended physical activity
Researchers have found that only 16 percent of heart attack survivors get the recommended amount of physical activity in the weeks after hospitalization, despite evidence that physical activity reduces the risk of having a second heart attack.
Parents' physical activity associated with preschooler activity in underserved populations
Preschool-age children from low-income families are more likely to be physically active if parents increase activity and reduce sedentary behavior while wearing movement monitors (accelerometers), according to a Vanderbilt study published today in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
AMPK -- the enzyme that makes physical activity healthy
ampk Physical activity benefits diabetics and others with insulin resistance.
Physical activity good for your health, but what's happening below the surface?
The University of Michigan was recently awarded $8.2 million from the National Institutes of Health to investigate the molecular changes that occur during and after physical activity.
Psychological well-being and physical activity in older adults
In a paper just published by researchers at Chapman University, findings showed associations between psychological well-being and physical activity in adults ages 50 and older.
Parkinson's disease patients benefit from physical activity
A comprehensive review published in the Journal of Parkinson's Disease confirms that people living with Parkinson's disease (PD) can benefit from being physically active, especially when it comes to improving gait and balance, and reducing risks of falls.
Research shows physical activity does not improve after hip replacement
New research from the University of East Anglia (UEA) shows that, surprisingly, patients' physical activity does not increase following hip replacement surgery.
The effectiveness of activity trackers and rewards to encourage physical activity
Activity trackers such as Fitbit, Jawbone, Garmin and others have become increasingly popular.

Related Physical Activity Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#532 A Class Conversation
This week we take a look at the sociology of class. What factors create and impact class? How do we try and study it? How does class play out differently in different countries like the US and the UK? How does it impact the political system? We talk with Daniel Laurison, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Swarthmore College and coauthor of the book "The Class Ceiling: Why it Pays to be Privileged", about class and its impacts on people and our systems.