Maybe you’ve seen them – strange groups of transfixed people gripping their phones and walking, leaping and jumping their way through parks, malls and city streets. While there’s nothing strange about seeing distracted phone users out and about in public spaces, this new manifestation is characterized by purposeful walking, running and searching, punctuated by an occasional leap or jump. What the heck is going on? It’s Pokémon Go.

Pokemon are little Japanese monsters that you are supposed to catch – made popular in video games by Nintendo. Now, there’s a new augmented reality version that you can download and play on your phone.

Instead of simply chasing down the monsters on a video screen, you must go out to find and capture the collection of 100+ monsters in a real-world scavenger hunt. In the short time since the game’s release on July 6, it’s taken the world by storm… and it’s having an unintended side effect for many … it is increasing their exercise. It may be the biggest game-related exercise motivator since the introduction of the Wii and the Wiifit .

Vox media has an article that explains: Pokémon Go may be the greatest unintentional health fad ever

Unlike most games, which engage only your thumbs, Pokémon Go requires you to walk, run, and even jump — all great forms of exercise. Gizmodo noted that this may even be driving a “pandemic” of sore legs, since so many users have complained about pain from their Pokémon “workouts.”

How much more active are users? So far, all we have are these anecdotes. But there is some preliminary data from the Cardiogram for Apple Watch and the fitness tracking company Jawbone that suggests an uptick in physical activity among users since the launch of the game.

The article also embeds a series of amusing tweets from users commenting on how much exercise they’re getting and complaining about leg aches from the walking they did. Some users also speculate that this might be the greatest weapon in the battle against youth obesity. If you use social media, you are hearing the same comments. But getting absorbed in the game is not without risks – social media is also full of users complaining about falls and near-miss accidents Pokémon Go users share accidents on social media.

The Vox article points out that exercise alone isn’t going to solve the obesity crisis – exercise is only one part of the equation, the other part is what and how much we eat. But we’re fans of anything that gets people up and moving!

Here are a few more articles:

Health Buzz: Pokemon GO Has Everyone Exercising

Psychology Today: The Psychological Pros and Cons of Pokémon Go

USA Today: 5 things we learned from ‘Pokémon Go’

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