Pok�mon GO and Physical Activity in Asia: Multilevel Study (Preprint) [post]

Ben D Ma, Sai Leung Ng, Tim Schwanen, John Zacharias, Mudi Zhou, Ichiro Kawachi, Guibo Sun
2017 unpublished
BACKGROUND Physical activity has long been considered as an important component of a healthy lifestyle. Although many efforts have been made to promote physical activity, there is no effective global intervention for physical activity promotion. Some researchers have suggested that Pokémon GO, a location-based augmented reality game, was associated with a short-term increase in players' physical activity on a global scale, but the details are far from clear. OBJECTIVE The objective of our study
more » ... was to study the relationship between Pokémon GO use and players' physical activity and how the relationship varies across players with different physical activity levels. METHODS We conducted a field study in Hong Kong to investigate if Pokémon GO use was associated with physical activity. Pokémon GO players were asked to report their demographics through a survey; data on their Pokémon GO behaviors and daily walking and running distances were collected from their mobile phones. Participants (n=210) were Hong Kong residents, aged 13 to 65 years, who played Pokémon GO using iPhone 5 or 6 series in 5 selected types of built environment. We measured the participants' average daily walking and running distances over a period of 35 days, from 14 days before to 21 days after game installation. Multilevel modeling was used to identify and examine the predictors (including Pokémon GO behaviors, weather, demographics, and built environment) of the relationship between Pokémon GO use and daily walking and running distances. RESULTS The average daily walking and running distances increased by 18.1% (0.96 km, approximately 1200 steps) in the 21 days after the participants installed Pokémon GO compared with the average distances over the 14 days before installation (P<.001). However, this association attenuated over time and was estimated to disappear 24 days after game installation. Multilevel models indicated that Pokémon GO had a stronger and more lasting association among the less physically active players compared with the physically active ones (P<.001). Playing Pokémon GO in green space had a significant positive relationship with daily walking and running distances (P=.03). Moreover, our results showed that whether Pokémon GO was played, the number of days played, weather (total rainfall, bright sunshine, mean air temperature, and mean wind speed), and demographics (age, gender, income, education, and body mass index) were associated with daily walking and running distances. CONCLUSIONS Pokémon GO was associated with a short-term increase in the players' daily walking and running distances; this association was especially strong among less physically active participants. Pokémon GO can build new links between humans and green space and encourage people to engage in physical activity. Our results show that location-based augmented reality games, such as Pokémon GO, have the potential to be a global public health intervention tool.
doi:10.2196/preprints.9670 fatcat:caiatcw6gzftdodxmw3jxqalla