This app changed my walking routine


I caught a wurmple yesterday.

No, it’s not a disease or a rare insect or grub.

It’s a Pokemon.

For the last week, I’ve played Pokemon Go everyday during my walk. I’m really out-of-shape, and for a guy who’s nearing 50, kicking this old butt back into shape is a necessity.

The problem is that I hate exercise, and I hate “walking” exercises even more.

As I begin my billionth attempt at a regular routine, history proves I should have missed at least one or two days by now, or quit the regimen altogether.

Not this time. I haven’t missed a walk in seven days.

Maybe the better phrase today is “I hated walking,” because it all changed when I reloaded Pokemon Go to my phone for the first time in two years.

You might recall a column I wrote in July 2016 about the new game. Pokemon Go was all the rage that summer, in part because it was the first mass adoption of an augmented reality (AR) game for mobile devices.

AR is different from virtual reality (VR). AR technology changes the view of your “real” surroundings by overlaying an image, typically an animated graphic. You get a composite view of the world as opposed to the immersive view you get in VR.

As I found out, it can be tricky (and slightly dangerous) to play Pokemon Go during your walk, so here are a few tips to consider:

1. Looking down at your phone while you’re walking is typically not advisable. If you don’t believe me, search YouTube for a few humorous examples. Be sure you’re in wide-open spaces, on familiar terrain, and far away from roads and areas congested with pedestrians. You don’t want to embarrass yourself, or worse, get hurt.

2. Shut off the AR. Trying to catch Pokemon while walking in AR can be disconcerting, especially for walkers who lose their balance (again, stay away from roads). Toggle the “AR” switch in the upper right hand corner of the capture screen to turn on the traditional game mode.

3. Timing my walks used to be tedious, but I shoot for 30-minutes each session. Aside from timing and tracking steps in a separate app, there are two items you can use to countdown half-hour walks.

First, try the “Incense” item to emit an aroma that attracts Pokemon to your location for 30 minutes (yes, it’s a “virtual” aroma). Second, add the “Lucky Egg” item to earn double points for 30 minutes.

You can watch countdowns in the main Pokemon Go screen.

4. Don’t run while playing Pokemon Go. It’s not safe and the app will assume you’re driving.

Pokemon Go is available for Android and iOS devices. It’s free unless you make in-app purchases to advance your game play.

Dr. Adam Earnheardt is chair of the department of communication at Youngstown State University. Follow him on Twitter at @adamearn and on his blog at

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