Pokemon To The Rescue

I have just finished reading an excellent article on the BBC News website about how the smart phone game Pokémon Go has helped people get outside and enjoy some fresh air.  The article looks at four case studies and shows how something as simple as a computer game can get people of all ages outside.

Back in December 2016 I wrote an article on the use of another hobby or interest to get you motivated to get outside.  Having re-read that article as well, I decided it was time for an update and a chance to see what else can be used to help get people outside.

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Matthew Gibson – Photo © BBC News

The case studies used by the BBC looked at people with different problems and issues and highlighted very well, how the power of the smart phone and gaming apps is a great tool to help motivate people into doing something they would normally not be interested in.  Take for example the case of Matthew Gibson, a young 26-year-old who has cerebral palsy and autism.

“didn’t want to go out much” before Pokémon Go launched…. “I was like, ‘mum it’s a bit windy,’… or, ‘mum it’s a bit rainy,’… I didn’t even want to go out in the sun because there was nothing to do,”

Since the release of the game Matthew has explored parts of his local neighbourhood he did not know existed.  He now visits parks and castle with his parents and, with the help of his support worker, has created an outdoor gamer club for the disabled in his area.

But it is not just the young that have benefitted from this game.  Retired couple Pauline and Robin Tarry in their mid-60’s are now out every day, clocking up 30 miles a week in pursuit of ‘prey’.

“We’ve been out at silly o’clock, we’ve been down the road at 1am to go in for a “Gym”, so we’ve had extra exercise,”….. “My blood sugars are almost at pre-diagnosis level,”

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Lesley Morgan and Grandson – photo © Lesley Morgan

Another 65 year old asthma sufferer, Lesley Morgan, struggled to play with her grandson because she was “full of aches and pains.”  This was until he persuaded her to come out with him chasing Pokémon’s.

“[At first] I couldn’t catch a thing,”…. “Now it’s me saying to him ‘come on let’s go and do this’.”

Getting outside with her grandson encouraged her to start walking to work and is now doing more than 30 miles a week and has reduced her reliance on her inhaler.

“My asthma nurse is so pleased I’ve got lungs again. I can run for the bus and not feel like I’m going to die. I’ve also gone down about two dress sizes.”

Now you do not have to go rushing to your smart phones to download this particular app.  As discussed in my previous blog, there are many other smart phone activities that can be used to encourage or motivate people to get outside.

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As a society, we are becoming very smart phone dependant and reliant, so rather that constantly knocking their use, lets try looking at ways to assimilate their use into getting outside.  Here we have discussed Pokémon Go and there is an app my grandson introduced me to Harry Potter’s Wizards Unite.

All these apps, plus many more require the use of a smart phone in the outdoor environment.  Therefore, they are the perfect tool for getting the reluctant outside.  But is does not have to be a gaming app, there are many interest based apps which will have the same effect.

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Popular apps include Geocaching, TrigpointingUK, iRecord Butterflies, Big Butterfly Count and many many more.  I am sure that there will be an app out there somewhere that will cover a subject that you are interested in.  Download one and use it to get yourself or someone you know outdoors.

The article on the BBC News Website just goes to prove that even the activities that many of us would disapprove of, do have a great benefit to all ages.

Warning – if using a smart device outdoors, please remain aware of your environment at all times.  Do not play these apps near roads or up mountains – it can hurt!

1 January 2020
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