VG Tribune

Pokemon GO Fitness Challenge: Quantifying Physical Activity Through FitBit

August 17, 2016 / 11:17 AM

By: Matthew Williams


About a year ago, I reviewed Niantic’s (Pokemon GO development studio) first Augmented Reality (AKA: AR) mobile game, Ingress. In the review, I explained that it had an “addicting blend of exploration, teamwork, and exercise”, which was a unique mix of concepts never found in any game prior. Niantic’s gamification of these concepts (most notably the ‘exercise’ component) has caused millions of its users to become more physically fit through activities, like walking.

Fast forward to now, and Niantic has managed to create the most downloaded AR mobile game in history – Pokemon GO. By implementing these same concepts, the studio has enabled millions of other gamers to become physically healthier. Gamers are intentionally wanting to be more active, and it is showing. There are even articles predicting the best benefits certain demographics are receiving by playing the game (*cough, Millennials, cough*). One of the top physical benefits is, you guessed it: a decreased obesity rate.

While the introductory physical activities (i.e.: walking) this game has introduced is great progress, there are many other players who may want a more ‘intense’ regime when coupling their fitness goals with Pokemon hunting. That’s where this new article series comes into play. Introducing the Pokemon GO Fitness Challenge – a series dedicated to offering new, exciting ways to become more physically active while playing the game!

Our first article in the series aims at showing you how to quantify physical activity in Pokemon GO with data-driven exercise metrics using the widely popular activity tracker, FitBit.


For those who are unaware, FitBit is an activity tracker that measures data tied to a person’s level of physical activity. Some of these data points include: the number of steps walked, calories burned, and flights of stairs walked. These metrics are gathered on a daily basis, and are later synced to FitBit’s company servers, which can be accessed in real-time to pull comprehensive metrics for the previously mentioned data points.

In addition to measuring these data points, the FitBit trackers have the ability to measure the ‘intensity’ of some of these metrics – most importantly, the number of calories burned. For example: FitBit User A may have burned 2,000 calories in one day by walking 10,000 steps. FitBit User B, however, may have burned the same amount of calories with just 8,000 steps. How is this possible? Depending on if you are running vs. walking, FitBit has the ability to identify the differences between the two activities, and will assign the caloric count based on the ‘intensity’ of your movement.

To put this all into perspective when playing Pokemon GO – users who wear their FitBit while playing the game will be able to quantify their Pokemon hunting journeys with data! Gone are the days of wondering how many calories you burned while hunting for that Pikachu. With FitBit, users will be able to get baseline fitness metrics and a degree of ‘intensity’ associated with their Pokemon GO playtime.


Weekly step count taken when Pokemon GO first released

FitBit trackers come in an array of different models. For the most accurate step count and calories burned, I personally recommend the FitBit One. It is one of the cheaper FitBit models that you can wear near your hip, which happens to be the most optimal place for accurately tracking your step count.

For those already leveraging FitBit to quantify their physical activity in Pokemon GO – how is it working out for you? Let us know in the comments below!

About the author /

Matthew, a graduate from Texas Christian University, now works as a Senior Digital Analytics Consultant for Ernst & Young. With a passion for video games (mostly retro and survival horror) and data, Matthew is pursuing a career in game analytics.

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