The Pokémon Go workout

Amy Eversley (Personal Fitness Trainer ’10) has a plan to turn the streets into your very own Pokémon gym.

After recently trying out Pokémon Go, the NAIT health and wellness coordinator (and dedicated gamer in the off-hours), realized how the game’s inherent physical activity could be “levelled up.”

“You can’t just stay home and play it,” says Eversley. “You have no choice but to move.” With the game recently made available (officially) in Canada, she explains how to get real benefits out of augmented reality.

The power of walking

Walking, she notes, is already an integral part of the game. Since players have reported not being able to catch Pokémon while travelling at higher speeds on a bike, play is generally best on foot. Eversley recommends a goal of covering at least 10 kilometres per week. You’ll hatch eggs, find more Pokémon and “reap the health benefits as well.” Among these, she points out:

  • lower blood pressure
  • reduced body fat
  • increased mental well-being
  • reduced risk of heart disease and stroke
  • increased bone density
  • better sleep

Once 10 km is comfortable, pick up the pace. “If you opt to really kick it up a notch and include jogging or running, maintain a pace that also allows you to intermittently hold a conversation.” Moving quicker means more calories burned in addition to the benefits listed above.

Now try the Pokémon Go workout

Eversley suggests a simple, full-body workout to complement that walking, adding interval training (periodic, high-intensity bursts of activity) and strategic, strength-building exercises.

Level-up burpees – Reach a new level? Congratulations! Celebrate with the same number of burpees (see the sequence of moves below). These aren’t easy. If you’re playing well into the double digits and not ready for the intensity, split the digits, add them and use that number. Level 35, for example, would be 3 + 5 = 8 reps.

Eggs-ercise – If you’ve hatched an egg, drop and give us 30 – 30 seconds each, that is, of planking (below left), side planking (middle) and wall sits. These are core-strengthening moves that will help keep you in the game, says Eversley. “If you’re walking hills or stairs you don’t want to injure your back or overuse it, so this will help keep everything in line.”

Fly high – You’ll likely catch a few flying Pokémon during your session, says Eversley. Use them as an opportunity to fit in 10 jumping jacks before moving on. “Just a little pause to get your heart rate back up, get the metabolism going and then go back to your walking.”

The getaway – Sometimes, Pokémon you catch escape. Turn a negative into a positive with a “sprint” of 10 to 30 seconds. There’s no need for an all-out run, says Eversley. Go from walk to power-walk, or light jog to active run to increase muscle strength and the metabolic conditioning that improves the efficiency of various body systems. This will also boosts insulin action and glucose uptake that is key to health and avoiding diabetes.

Stretch out the fun – When the hunt is over, soothe sore muscles by stretching your legs. Focus on hamstrings, glutes and calf muscles. Your Pokémon Go workout may have tired you out but, whether or not you notice, it has helped establish valuable habits. “Don’t just come home and sit back down on the couch,” says Eversley.

How to have a safe Pokémon Go workout

  • Always watch where you’re going and be aware of your surroundings.
  • Wear clothing and shoes appropriate for exercising.
  • Bring water and a small snack, but don’t use Pokémon Go as an excuse to eat junk food.
  • Bring friends. You can keep each other accountable during your workout.

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