Pokémon Go made you walk 25 percent more than you used to


In a month, America walked an additional 144 billion steps, a new Stanford/Microsoft study says.

Pokémon Go’s creators want the hit mobile game to get people out of the house and exploring their neighborhoods. A new study confirms that’s really happening.

In “Influence of Pokémon Go on Physical Activity,” researchers from Microsoft Research and Stanford University studied, over the course of a month, how many steps were recorded by the Microsoft Bands — wearable activity trackers — belonging to Pokémon Go fans. The most engaged fans of the game walked 25 percent more than they did before Pokémon Go’s release.

“We find that Pokémon Go increased activity all across the studied population, largely independent of prior activity level, age, weight status or gender,” the study says. “These results are encouraging since they suggest that any positive effects due to Pokémon Go are available even to sedentary, obese and older users. Effectively reaching these users with physical activity interventions is critical for public health.”

How the researchers separated fans from normies is pretty interesting in its own right. They connected nearly 32,000 Microsoft Band owners’ steps with their Bing search queries, isolating the players from non-players based on the words they searched for.

So, someone Bing-ing only “pokemon go” or a phrase like “pokemon go death san francisco” may not be a player, but the study rationalizes that someone searching for “pokemon go eevee evolution” is trying to better understand how to play the game.

All told, the study estimates that Pokémon Go players across the U.S. walked an additional 144 billion steps in the game’s first month in the wild. It says that if those players were to keep up the same level of increased activity over a longer period of time, they could add nearly three billion years, collectively, to their lifespans.

For more Pokémon Go, check out Kara Swisher’s Recode Decode interview with Niantic CEO John Hanke:

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