PhotoThe quest to catch ‘em all has Pokemon Go users upping their activity level, and doctors are a-okay with that.

Group Health physicians say the app is helping users stay fit by taking boredom out of the exercise equation. This unexpected effect could be of particular benefit to kids who are prone to sedentary lifestyles, experts say.

“The ability to search and find as many as 150 exotic and powerful monsters is having a great appeal," said Dr. Jessie Fudge, a Group Health physician and specialist in Activity, Sports, and Exercise Medicine.

But in our device saturated world, kids aren’t the only ones who could use a little motivation to step outside. The augmented reality app is giving users of all ages the motivation they need to engage in some light outdoor activity.

Activity disguised as a game

"With obesity and inactivity growing epidemics with significant consequences, the need to find ways to get off the couch and away from the computer to exercise is critical,” Fudge said in a statement. “If you or your kids like video or cell phone games and are looking for walking motivation, this just might be it."

The subtle nudge to go out has positively impacted users’ mental health, as well. Pokemon Go players who suffer from depression or anxiety are getting a healthy dose of happiness as a result of getting outside and getting active.

The game is no substitute for professional treatment, of course -- but it can help. Dr. John Grohol, an expert on technology's impact on human behavior and mental health, tells Engadget the game is “a great adjunct to other kinds of treatment, such as psychotherapy and medication.”

Safety tips for players

For all its benefits, the game still has risks. The task of hunting for Pokemon in the real world carries with it the risk of distraction-related accidents and injuries.

To help you stay safe, Fudge recommends the following Pokemon Go safety tips:

  • Follow real world rules and focus on your surroundings to prevent incidents like this from happening. 

  • Never play the game while driving or on a moving vehicle, such as a bike or skateboard; walking or running is the best way to play.

  • Start slowly. If you’re not usually very active, limit your playing time for the first few days and gradually increase your distance/time with each session.

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