3 Healthy Alternatives to Pokémon GO

Discover three healthy alternatives to Pokémon GO, should you or your children decide to opt out of the great virtual hunt.

Ben Greenfield
5-minute read
Episode #303

3 Healthy Alternatives to Pokemon GO

1. Fitness Exploring

I’ve been fitness exploring with my kids since they were two. It’s extremely simple, and just a version of the popular “Parkour” style of doing tricks and fitness challenges as you walk through a nature or urban setting. During a one to three mile walk, my kids and/or I will jump up on park benches, balance on beams, climb up walls, climb down walls, crawl through bushes, carry rocks, carry each other, jump, skip, hop, lunge, simulate animal movements such as backward bear crawls and gorilla walks and do just any movement we can imagine, often with a “Follow The Leader” style format. For more on this, look up my friend Darryl Edwards, the official Fitness Explorer.

2. Wild Plant Foraging

Just the other day, I posted to my Instagram page a photo of a lovely, fresh salad prepared in our kitchen, with the caption, “This evening, the boys and I went out to the forest behind our house and harvested wild plants for a salad. We brought home nettle, wild mint and plantain, then we dressed it with avocado oil, raw honey, goat cheese, peaches, slivered almonds, sea salt and black pepper. Perfect pairing for fish. Bon appetit!” Both my children and I use a phone app called “FlowerChecker” to take photographs of plants, roots, mushrooms and other items we find in nature. On the other end of the app is a team of live botanists who help us to identify the edible and medicinal nature of the plant, and figure out what to do with it. Not only is this a fantastic way to learn about nature, but you don’t have to “live in the sticks” to engage in this activity—instead you’d be incredibly surprised at how much wilderness is present in the  grass growing along the sidewalk or in a park in even the most urban of settings.

3. Battles

I do not endorse an infatuation or encouragement of extreme violence in children, especially the type of violence seen in many popular video games, but I do like the idea of a bit of friendly competition every now and again. So, in our garage closet, you’ll find an assortment of paintball guns, soft Nerf weapons like bow and arrow, water guns, water balloons, capture the flag equipment, kickballs for dodgeball and other items we can use to venture outside for a bit of friendly competition that is easily as fun (and far more active) than a video game—and, perhaps more importantly based on the research you learned about earlier, 100% non-pixilated. If you don’t like the idea of your kids running around with waterguns and Nerf bows, try dartboards, miniature tennis nets, ping pong, or just about anything else you’ll find in your local sporting goods store, which, by the way, makes for a perfect field trip for a bunch of bored kids.

So that’s it. I’m not arguing that Pokémon GO is evil, unnecessary, or clinically proven in long term research studies to be unhealthy. But I am indeed proposing that there may be safe and healthy alternatives that do you or your child a greater good than chasing a virtual cartoon character with head down, buried in a phone.

And finally, as I describe in Can Kids Exercise Too Much?”, there is indeed a law of diminishing returns when it comes to hormone depletion and bone density if kids are constantly running miles and miles or spending their entire day pumping iron at the gym, but from what I’ve observed, this isn’t a huge problem for most families and if it is for your family, then … go read that article.

If you have questions, comments or feedback about these three alternatives to Pokemon GO, you can join the conversation at .Facebook.com/getfitguy!

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own health provider. Please consult a licensed health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.