by Tyler Valencia, MS
Before you roll your eyes or get mad at me for supporting a video game, lets look at a major fact that Pokemon Go has created, more people are outside and being active. They may be looking at a screen, but people are exploring areas they have never before and even putting in serious miles on their feet. Just a couple weeks ago this new video game app became available and already we are hearing stores about how someone has found a dead body (that’s a storyline out of a movie) and how parks are now filled with people playing the game. Just the other day when I was at the park practicing for an upcoming competition I noticed the increase in people walking around. This was at the early stages of the craze and I was initially confused as to why so many people were at the park, but then I realized they were all playing Pokemon Go and walking around this HUGE park that’s almost 22 acres.
So now that I have a little bit of your attention, wouldn’t you agree that some activity is better than none? A little more than ten years ago our county faced the issue of children spending too much time inside and not enough outside playing. Below are two reason why I am FOR Pokemon Go!
Increased Exercise Adherence
When exercise in general comes up, people typically say how they wish they did it more. If exercise was something they enjoyed and got pleasure out of it, more people would do it, right?
Hardy et al. (2013) tested the functional movement skills of children throughout 4 different periods in their life. These skills included: sprint run, vertical jump, catch, kick and overarm throw. One of the major theories inside this research piece was how “children who have not mastered basic FMS are more likely to not participate in organized sports and play experiences because of a lack of basic physical skills” (Hardy et al., 2013). This means that if they aren’t good at it, they don’t participate! When you think about the skills that the researchers tested, one quickly realizes that they are the basic movements of any sport. Makes sense. If you’re not good at hockey, you’re most likely not going to take the time to join a traveling team or join your high school team. So how can we change that? This theory also brought up the possibility that a lack of FMS’ would lead to higher tendencies of obesity, which holds true today. While I would not want to constantly subject kids to sports that they don’t enjoy, physical activity seems to be at an all time low and childhood obesity is at an all time high. In order to decrease this issue, we as a society need to try to be more creative with the children who aren’t as interested in sports. Not everyone likes to play baseball, football or basketball. The gaming world is much bigger than we would all like to believe and now they are even showcasing gaming competitions on ESPN!
So what are some solutions? I know funding can be an issue in schools with how much can be appropriated to physical education, but figuring out activities that do interest students with undeveloped FMS’ should have a place in research. Even though I was never into the video game Dance, Dance Revolution, I did see the positives of children having to get up and move to play the game. This would be a hard sell to school districts but if this is what interests children and gets them up and moving, wouldn’t it be worth it? Wouldn’t an hour of a dancing video game or other interactive games be more beneficial than a half-effort hour of walking around a track?
The same basis applies for Pokemon Go. Walking is a basic movement that anyone can do. Today we are seeing more than just children playing this game, and all people who do play are spending multiple hours outside. Even though this isn’t what some might consider “true” physical activity, it’s a win in my book!
Just minutes before I decided to write this post, I saw a video on Facebook about how a hospital is using Pokemon Go in a rehabilitation setting. I’m not a 100% knowledgeable on all the intricacies of the game, but the take home message I got was that the game was able to let these physical therapy patients perform basic movements while playing a game that they enjoyed. In Lee, Swanson and Hall (1991) the authors stressed the importance of critical thinking during the leaning state of movement. In a rehabilitation setting, movement is often slow and can often be frustrating since basic movements are typically being re-learnt, but with increased critical thinking comes a higher rate of retention. If a game can take away the stress of performing a task repeatedly, that is already a positive in my book.
Lee and White (1990) watched the performance outcome of two individuals playing a video game for the first time. The two authors observed that the individual who watched the other participant play for the first time was able to gain more applicable knowledge from watching the unskilled performance. This showed that observing an unskilled performance allows the learner to detect errors made by the unskilled individual and conceptually figure out new outcomes. For example, if a patient in rehabilitation program is watching another patient play Pokemon Go, they would hopefully be able to gain feedback that they can apply once it is their turn. This might come in the form of how their feet could be positioned or how they should align their upper body during basic hand movements. Pokemon Go has allowed therapists to help create different activities to create critical thinking for their patients.
Video about Physical Therapy & Pokemon Go – https://www.facebook.com/NowThisNews/videos/1110547305702059/?pnref=story
So while Pokemon Go is not the answer most would have come up with to get people more active, its doing the job. Most importantly, people are enjoying it! My two failed attempts at downloading the app have gotten me to the conclusion that it just isn’t meant to be, but I’m happy to hear that others are outside, being active and sticking to it!
Tyler Valencia is the Co-Owner & President of KIPS. He is also the owner of Time 2 Train Fitness in Long Beach, CA. He holds a Masters of Science in Applied Exercise Science, is certified as a personal trainer through the National Exercise & Sports Trainers Association and has the Performance Enhancement Specialist certificate through the National Academy of Sports Medicine.
Hardy, L. L., Barnett, L., Espinel, P., & Okely, A. D. (2013). Thirteen-year trends in child and adolescent fundamental movement skills: 1997-2010. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 45(10), 1965-1970. doi:10.1249/MSS.0b013e318295a9fc
Lee, T. D., Swanson, L. R., & Hall, A. L. (1991). What is repeated in a repetition? Effects of practice conditions on motor skill acquisition. Physical Therapy, 71(2), 150-156.
Lee, T. D., & White, M. A. (1990). Influence of an unskilled model’s practice schedule on observational motor learning. Human Movement Science, 9(3-5), 349-367.