Five reasons Pokemon Go is your next fitness obsession.

You can roll your eyes all you like, but Pokemon Go has made itself very much at home in public life.

In a matter of days, the augmented reality game — in which ‘trainers’ catch and battle Pokemon with the aid of their phone’s GPS — has been downloaded millions of times and caused a giant spike in Nintendo’s market value.

The Pokemon Go frenzy has spawned a lot of public commentary, not all of it positive (oh hey there, fun police).

Some valid safety concerns aside, even the most ardent critics have to admit the app is achieving something unthinkable: it’s getting Aussies out of the house in the middle of winter. Can’t say the same for Netflix, hmm?

Now, Virgin Active UK is seizing the opportunity to combine the game with actual fitness, launching the world’s first Pokemon Go training run.

Watch: Sunrise explains some of the pedestrian safety concerns regarding Pokemon Go. (Post continues after video.)

Video via Sunrise

A London branch of the popular gym chain has introduced a five kilometre run, guided by a qualified instructor, designed for participants to visit Pokestops and grow their Pokedex along the way.


As the Telegraph reports, the July 20 run will also incorporate some interval training with bodyweight exercises like lunges and tricep dips.

You’d be pretty Bulba-sore after that (sorry, obligatory Poke-pun).

To our knowledge there aren’t any Aussie gyms doing the same, but it’s surely only a matter of time.

If you need any more ammunition to defend yourself from the Pokemon Go detractor in your life, throw these health benefits in their face.

1. The game requires you to get outside and walk.

If there’s a Pikachu in your neighbourhood, it’s sure as hell not coming to you.

That’s the thing about Pokemon Go — in order to catch critters, collect Pokeballs, battle other trainers and so on, you have to leave the house and go to certain locations.

Sure, you can drive, but as many items are located off-road — in parks, for instance — walking is often the wiser way to go about it. This is why you’re seeing so many people walking the streets and congregating in public spaces with their phones lately. (Post continues after gallery.)

2. …sometimes for considerable distances.

When Pokemon Go trainers have eggs incubating, they’re required to walk certain cumulative distances — two, five or 10 kilometres — in order to hatch them. And driving won’t cut it, either, as there’s a speedometer in the app to ensure users aren’t moving too fast.

Though the app itself doesn’t count your steps, you can imagine they’d quickly add up. Sure, walking around a park isn’t the same kind of exercise as a gym class or a game of netball, but it’s certainly better than being totally sedentary.


One Pokemon trainer in the Mamamia office says she went for five walks the weekend the app launched. “I can’t decide if my dog is lucky, or just completely exhausted, because of this game,” she says. That’s a win-win.

Of course, you still need to be looking up and being aware of your surroundings and obstacles (especially traffic) as you do so. That’s just common sense.

It's called Pokemon Go, but it's not going anywhere. Image:

3. It's getting people to socialise.

It seems ironic that a smartphone app would prompt people to be more social in real life, but that's precisely what Nintendo Co. had in mind when it designed the game. And anecdotally, it seems to be working.

"One of my friends went into Hyde Park [Sydney] on her lunch break and accidentally met up with 70 other players, also all on their break," one resident trainer says.

"They had a big ol' chat about Pokemon, and she said it was the first time she'd spoken to strangers in the park the whole time she'd been having her lunch there."

There have also been meetups and Pokemon walks arranged through social media, bringing together strangers who probably wouldn't meet or speak to one another otherwise. How often do we see that in 2016?

Socialising in real life. Who would have thought? (Image:L Pokemon wiki)

4. Some say it's doing wonders for their mental health.

Getting outside, walking around and interacting with people might not sound like anything to write home about, but for people living with anxity, depression and other mental health issues, it can be a hugely daunting experience.

Several Pokemon Go players have posted about the game's positive effect on their state of mind on social media.

Experts agree it's doing great things and reducing isolation.

"The game is bringing people together, providing opportunity for social interaction and increasing our sense of belonging which can have a positive impact on our emotional and mental health," Matt Hoffman, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Nursing, writes for Science Direct.

The game is also providing a positive distraction from stress and negativity.

"That way of taking a break and letting the mind think about something different is better than smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol, which is what lot of people do to de-stress," Dr Greg Wadley, a lecturer in computer science at University of Melbourne, told Triple J's Hack last week.


Watch: Five signs you might benefit from seeing a psychologist. (Post continues after video.)

5. You'll spend a lot of time at the gym.

...just not in the, ah, traditional sense.

As Pokemon Go players know too well, 'gyms' are virtual locations — often in popular areas with a lot of activity — where trainers go to train their Pokemon and battle them against others.

At any given time, one of the three Pokemon Go teams (red, blue or yellow) will have control over a gym, but the claim can transfer to other teams through battles.

In short, if you or someone you live with plays the game, the phrase "going to the gym" has probably taken on a whole new meaning. And you know what? Pokemon Go haters in your life needn't know any different.

Are you playing Pokemon Go?

Featured image: Virgin Active UK (via Twitter)