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Pokémon GO Gets Users Outside

Pamela Bump and Melissa Jellie
This content originally appeared on 

An unlikely fitness phenomenon has swept the nation, persuading people of all ages to go outside for a walk. But, as millions are experiencing the great outdoors, their phones aren't far from sight.

Pikachu, Bulbasaur, and other characters from the popular '90s cartoon "Pokemon" returned in full force July 6 with the launch of the free Pokemon GO smartphone app. To play the game, users follow in the footsteps of the show's protagonist, Ash Ketchum, by catching and training Pokemon. 

See the Neighborhood

Unlike the show, adventure expands offscreen as the app forces players to search their actual neighborhoods for Pokemon. The GPS-based game shows players a map highlighting real locations where the fictional Pokemon populations thrive. When visiting real parks, landmarks, businesses, and public spots labeled as PokeStops or PokeGyms, players can train, battle, and get new accessories.

Walking for the Win

Along with social-media chatter, fitness aspects of the app have been noted by publications and websites including U.S. News & World Report, BuzzFeed, Tech Insider, IGN, and Gizmodo.

Aside from asking users to walk outdoors, the app distinguishes when a player is driving, but rewards them for walking. If a user finds a Pokemon egg, they must walk for a certain distance before it hatches. When the Pokemon in the egg is rare, the player has to walk farther than usual. Additionally, when a player walks 10 kilometers, they receive a metal and additional experience points. 

New Experiences With Nature

The map used in the game also points out different environments where certain species of Pokemon live. For example, those looking to catch fish-like Pokemon could check out a local lake or river.

While looking for fictional animals, players have seen real ones. On Twitter, experts began to ask players to tweet photos of real animals found in the wild with the hashtag #PokeBlitz.

Play It Safe

Although the app directs players to stay alert, distraction-related injuries still take place. Players should take caution when crossing streets, watch where they walk, stay in familiar areas, and refrain using the app while driving. 

Many players have also taken to social media to complain about sore legs from walking. If you run into this issue, try these tips. Additionally, screen time should be limited as it may strain the eyes.

Other Apps for the Outdoors

While Pokemon GO is sweeping the nation, it is not the first to encourage physical activity.

Zombie, Run!: Horror-movie fanatics can find out what it's like to run from zombies with this virtual-reality game. In hopes of stopping the impending zombie apocalypse, players must walk, jog, or run to the sounds of zombies chasing them.

SpecTrek: If horror movies interest you, but zombies don't, hunt for ghosts. Like Pokemon Go, this augmented-reality game allows the player to use GPS and their phone camera to hunt for ghouls around their town.

BattleSuit Runner: With this GPS-based virtual reality game, science-fiction fans can fight off aliens by changing the direction and speed that they are running.

Click to See Our Sources

BattleSuit Runner Fitness For IOS, Android, BattleSuit Runner, 2016.

Pokemon GO For IOS, Android, The Pokemon Company, Niantic, Inc., 7/6/16

"Pokemon Go's Unintended Consequences," by Robert Ferris, CNBC.com, 7/11/16.

"Playing Pokemon Go Is Becoming Dangerous," Associated Press, 7/9/16.

SpecTrek For IOS, Android, Games4All, 2016.

"Zombies, Run," zombiesrungame.com, 2016.