True to its name, Pokémon Go got Americans moving after a launch almost as explosive as a Blastoise bursting out of its poke ball.
A new study from Microsoft Research and Stanford University estimates that over 30 days, Pokémon Go added a total of 144 billion steps to U.S. physical activity. Researchers use that number to estimate that Pokémon Go could add approximately 2,825 million years of total additional lifetime to users in the U.S. if the game “was able to sustain the engagement of its current user base.”
Whether or not the game can sustain the same enthusiasm it garnered after the initial release has been the subject of speculation. Bloomberg News and other media outlets report user engagement is already on the decline.
The study looked at 32,000 people in the U.S. who wear a Microsoft Band device. By analyzing search queries, researchers were able to deduce with “high confidence” that 1,420 were Pokémon Go users. They first looked at searches of “Pokémon,” then narrowed the results to queries specific to playing the game itself to weed out people who were just generally curious about the phenomenon.
Using the Microsoft Band’s accelerometer, researchers found “particularly engaged users” increased their daily steps by more than 25 percent, compared to prior activity level.
The report also found that Pokémon Go succeeded in one area where traditional fitness apps failed.
“Pokémon Go has been able to increase physical activity across men and women of all ages, weight status, and prior activity levels showing this form of game leads to increases in physical activity with significant implications for public health,” researchers said in the study. “In particular, we find that Pokémon Go is able to reach low activity populations while all four leading mobile health apps studied in this work largely draw from an already very active population”