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Pikachu Fitness? Get Off The Couch With Pokémon Go!

The year 2016 will be remembered as one of the most unique we’ve seen in perhaps an entire generation. The Presidential election pits two of the most polarizing candidates in history at one another, and the reality show that is ensuing cannot be missed, no matter who you’re rooting for. Yet in the midst of Trump vs. Hilary, the world seems be turning off their televisions, picking up their smart phones and… going outside? 

Message boards typically packed with contributors sit at far less capacity than is the usual. Snapchats sit unviewed. Tweets are going un-re-tweeted. Far fewer people are liking posts and selfies. Why? Because a treat from two decades ago, Pokemon, has returned in the form of a new fun app for smart devices known as Pokemon Go. 

The instant impact of this new and popular app cannot be denied. Ten million people downloaded it in the first ten days, and that number is only continuing to grow.   Nintendo made billions of dollars in the first week, and it is on pace to shatter every smart device application record known to man. 2016 is the year of Pokemon Go, and the politicians are taking a backseat to it. 

Walk into any public park, shopping mall, or even your local gym – and you’ll quickly discover the craze is starting to catch on. You’ll see dozens of people, often roaming in packs, running, jogging, and walking from place to place, swiping balls at imaginary creatures which appear on their phone screens in connection with Google maps. The world is in your phone – and you can win rewards for swiping and collecting Pokémon.  They hide in the cleverest places, and locating them has many youths getting up off the couch and traveling outside to locate them.  That’s right – kids are moving again!   People are on their feet, often traveling miles each day to find more and more Pokémon!

Pokémon Go does have its fair share of haters. Open up any social media forum and you’ll quickly discover thousands of people rooting for its downfall. They are annoyed by the swarms of people roaming streets and parks, with their eyes down and their fingers swiping, crossing illegally, stopping their cars, and even walking into each other and as they search for elusive creatures which have been stirring in their memories for 20 years now.  Yes, Pokémon Go has just as many anti-fans as there are fans.  But there may still be hope yet for converting them! They see the bad, but others see the potential good.

Yes, Pokémon Go can be risky and distracting. On the other hand, perhaps you can use Pokémon Go to your advantage. You’re a wise fitness enthusiast, always seeking better ways to build muscle, supplement wiser, eat better, and develop a better physique, right?   The astute and wise athlete uses everything around him or her as a way of getting into better shape, and the new Pokémon app may just offer some benefits you may not have considered before.

First off, let’s talk about the obvious advantage that the Pokémon Go app delivers – fitness!   Not everyone likes to do their daily cardio. Let’s face it, most of us have a very strong desire to be leaner and possess a lower body fat level, right? We run our laps and binge watch Orange Is The New Black on Netflix while we walk in place, but do we ever really improve from embarking upon such endeavors? We grow tired and bored, and often quit before our planned time is up. Pokémon Go, on the other hand, has the OPPOSITE effect upon athletes. They leave their house and complete their cardio on their feet, moving around their neighborhood, a park, or just the streets of their town, in search of elusive creatures. They forget they’re doing cardio. They move quickly and often for miles, and usually end up going for much more distance than they anticipated, and then they still have to walk back home! Many people are discovering they’ve lost a dozen pounds in a dozen days, because they’re completing a great deal of cardiovascular exercise without even realizing it! They just get up and go – and the results are excellent. 

A secondary effect of the app would be overlooked by the casual enthusiast, but one which should be noticed and applied by wise athletes. Pokémon Go users aren’t just exercising – they are also having fun!  When a person laughs, smiles, and enjoys him or herself, they are limiting the release of cortisol, a stress hormone, into their body. In other words, they are warding off the fat gain and muscle deterioration that most people see on a daily basis from the everyday rigors of work, school, relationships and gym training. This kind of positive endorphin release is a terrific way to revitalize the health and energy of the athlete – and Pokémon Go helps to deliver that, even if you don’t realize it!  

In a year, Pokémon Go might be a silly footnote. We’ll look back at it, and see Pokémon Go as this year’s pet rock or Spice Girls single. It may end up becoming a humorous asterisk, as in “Remember back in 2016 when people would walk for miles to throw Pokeballs at imaginary creatures that only their smart phones could see? However it turns out, there will be no denying the impact that it had upon our culture and lifestyles for at least a short time.  As an athlete, you owe it to yourself to at least give it a try. You may discover it’s a fun way to spend time with your friends while knocking out your daily cardio. Even better yet, you might find it to be a fun stress release, which can relieve your body of some stress hormones which are contributing to holding you back from reaching your fitness goals. Whatever the outcome, you should give it a try. Have fun!



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