It’s the question that’s had health experts hand-wringing for years – how can we encourage kids to tear themselves away from their computer games and enjoy some exercise outside? Turns out, the answer is Pokemon.
Unbelievably, it’s less than a week since Pokemon Go hit the UK – in just that short time, it’s been impossible to miss the swarms of people pounding around the pavements looking for Snorlaxes, or stopping at a dead standstill in front of you to catch a Pidgey.

My boss at work is playing it. The great, hulking guy walking a few steps ahead of me through Brixton is playing it. Occasionally, even I’m playing it, despite being highly skeptical of the Pokemon craze mark one back in the late 90s, when we were swapping cards (how twee!)

While my nine-year-old self might’ve scoffed at the Pokemon mania (I was either a very weird or very discerning), this time I’m loving it, and I’ll tell you why: exercise.

A staggering stat from the US, where Pokemon Go launched a few weeks ago, shows that players are spending around TWO HOURS more outside, per day, than they were before they started the game.

What’s more, they lost three pounds on average, which isn’t bad going.

As a result, the app has caught the attention of the fitness world – this Miami-based Barry’s Bootcamp trainer has even come up with a workout you can do while catching Pokemon, which seems to mainly involve lunging around the pavement – good luck with that.

All over my social media channels, people are joking about how they went for a run just to catch Pokemon, or their kids demanding to be taken to the park to look for Pikachu. And while we’re all smirking at ourselves for this madness, it’s actually amazing to think that a mildly ridiculous app is getting us up off the sofa and exercising, especially when there’s so much worry about our sedentary lifestyles.

What’s more, Pokemon Go is surely just the start of a wave of these virtual reality apps, which will see us fighting pretend battles in the park or going on huge digital adventures in the great outdoors. While of course, in an ideal world we wouldn’t have our eyes locked on a screen, and instead would be admiring the beautiful nature surrounding us (or, um, sights of South London), anything that encourages people to start moving more has to be applauded.

So go throw those PokeBalls, and see happy you can make your FitBit in the process! Oh and read this piece by Hannah Gale about things that happen when you start playing Pokemon Go – my favourite feature about the obsession…