Pokemon Go: Exercise impact 'short-lived'

As cynics derided the popularity of Pokemon Go a few months ago, some tried to seek out the positives.

Sure, hundreds of millions of players were wandering around, eyes glued to smartphones, putting their energies into "catching" imaginary creatures in the augmented reality game.

And yes, okay, maybe the quest to "catch 'em all" meant they occasionally strayed into less-than-appropriate locations. Like Holocaust museums.

The risk of being so distracted while playing that you hurt yourself, or others, also proved very real.

But at least, said optimists, those players were getting a bit of exercise while doing it.

Now though, a study from Harvard University, published in the British Medical Journal suggests that the fitness boost was a short-lived phenomenon.

'Moderate' impact

Pokemon Go requires players to take to the streets to try to catch on-screen monsters like Pikachu and Snorlax in real-world locations.

And researchers found that keen players walked an average of an extra 955 steps a day in the first week of using the game.

But it seems additional exertion soon dwindled, and by week six participants were taking no more steps than they had been before they downloaded the game.

"Pokemon Go has been suggested to improve public health by promoting physical activity. In our study population, however, the results indicate that the health impact of Pokemon Go might be moderate," the authors of the report wrote.