The Surprising, Completely Free Way I’m Getting Healthier

This woman is exercising in a very unique way.

Yes, I’m still playing “Pokemon Go.” Laugh all you want, but, although it’s not the reason I started, I’m getting healthier by playing the game. What’s better is that it’s not costing me a thing.

When you want to get healthier and maybe even lose weight, it can be discouraging to look at expensive gym memberships and fees for personal trainers or group classes. It’s enough to make you want to give up. If you can’t afford a gym membership, or you’re just looking to save a little money in your quest to get fit, you might consider trying what has been working well for me.

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Why I Started Playing

I started playing “Pokemon Go” honestly because I was bored and wanted to see what the hype was all about. I started on July 13, 2016, out of pure idleness. I thought the game was interesting and I ended up walking around my school’s campus finding new things to look at. The great thing about my campus is that there are many “Pokestops” and “Gyms” (the name for virtual hotspots in which you battle other players and collect rewards) that I can “spin” — which essentially means getting more goodies to continue playing.

I was really a casual player at first, as I didn’t know anyone who played. After the initial “Pokemon Go” craze died down, everyone in my office said to me, “Oh you’re still playing that?” any time they saw it pop up on my phone.

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Finding My Pokemon Buddy

Then, one glorious day, I saw one of the other grad students wearing Pikachu socks. It was a bit nerve-wracking to go up to him to ask if he played. What if he was simply wearing the socks because he thought they were cool? What if he treated me like my co-workers did and looked at me with disdain?

I gathered my courage and asked, “Are those Pokemon socks?”

He turned around, looked me in the eye and said, “Yes, they’re Pikachu.” Then he asked the question that was music to my ears. He asked if I played “Pokemon Go.” Cue angels playing on harps.

I responded that yes, I played. He showed me his phone, which had a Pokeball Popsocket, a collapsible knob that sticks on to the back of your phone for gripping it more easily. He suggested that I play with him, as no one else in our office did.

That was the start of us walking around campus to Pokestops and Gyms to collect items. We started off doing one 10-minute round twice a week, then increased.

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Getting Into It

It was around this time that I realized that I was walking more, so I started paying more attention to my Fitbit. Usually, I struggled to even get 5,000 steps for the day. While doing our Pokemon rounds, though, I noticed I was getting closer to 8,000 steps a day.

We then joined a chat group for Pokemon (nerdy, I know) and began walking every single day. We also started joining groups of players, which meant we had to walk farther on campus to meet up with them. The camaraderie was so much fun that it never felt like exercise, and I found that as my enthusiasm for the game increased, so did the steps I took.

Walking More With “Pokemon Go”

Now, I’m consistently hitting my 10K steps for the day. In fact, some days I go over 12K or even 15K. Since our office is on the second floor, I’m also getting some stair climbing in, as well. If we do three or four outings during the day, I’m going up and down two flights of stairs each time. It has only been a month or so, but it has been a consistent minimum of 12k steps every day. (Yes, we do this on weekends, too.) 

Starting “Pokemon Go” was initially just a way to pass the time, but I am getting some much-needed exercise. I hope to see some weight loss, as well, at my next weigh-in. For now, I am getting healthier and having fun for free, and that’s enough for me.

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