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Exercise is evil. Almost anything we do to exercise is tedious, which is why many of us don’t do it. Newsweek® tells us that seven out of ten people in the United States are overweight. Several sources have suggested that we should walk about 10,000 steps a day, or 8 kilometers (about five miles) but most of us don’t.

However, all that changed in July of this year.

On 6 July, a new game application (App) was launched for use on smartphones. The App creates a real world Google-based map of the player’s location and uses incentives to encourage players, (also known as the trainers,) to walk. Incentives include fictional characters that must be collected. Some characters are common, some are less common, and some are exceedingly rare. Each character that is collected, or captured scores points for the trainer.

Users of new exercising app

Users of new exercising app

In addition to ‘hunting’ for characters, trainers can walk around public areas such as parks, campuses, and commercial shopping areas (like downtown areas and malls) to find locations, or stops, to free supplies used to capture, cure, and hatch more characters.

The hatching process also encourages walking. Trainers who collect character eggs at a stop must walk either two, five, or ten kilometers (1.2 mi., ≈3 mi., or ≈6 mi.) to hatch the egg. The greater the distance to hatch an egg, the rarer the character.

The game limits the speed of the trainer to a walking pace. Even the cruising speed of a bicycle is too fast for obtaining mileage (kilometerage?) credit towards an egg hatch, and most game functions shut down at anything approaching the speeds of motorized travel.

After it’s launch, the game became the most successful launch of any App in history with over 10 million people downloading the App in the first week. It was so successful that some were threatened by the amount of people exercising in public areas. 

Most people know the exercise App by the name Pokémon GO. Millions of people use it every day and many of them don’t realize that it is encouraging them to exercise.

Copyright 2016 – Paul Kiser