Gotta catch some exercise this summer? Pokémon GO to the rescue

By Dr. Sky Izaddoost
The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio Primary Care

As a pediatrician, one of the most dreaded questions I have to ask is: What are you doing this summer? “Nothing” is the number one answer. While our kids do benefit from the unstructured summer months, they spend too much time glued to the television, video games, smartphones, and tablets. These tools can be used for an educational purpose, but sometimes, kids revert to Sponge Bob reruns, Netflix binging, and the never-ending Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, and Toca Hair Salon. This costs our children some badly needed exercise.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 17 percent of children and adolescents aged 2 to 19 years are obese. That is 12.7 million children in the United States. Both a diet of moderation and exercise are vital to curing this problem, but also according to the CDC, over 75 percent of teenagers are not getting the recommended hour of physical activity daily.

Fortunately, now there is a popular smartphone app that is encouraging San Antonio’s children to get up and out, but is it safe?

By now you have probably heard about Pokémon GO on the news, read about it on Facebook or been cornered by your children to get the app. If not, Pokémon GO is a new app that is encouraging children to get up and well, GO!  By using a GPS tracker, it determines the distance you have traveled and allows different Pokémon eggs to become available. They even have special distance challenges that require walking up to 10km to hatch an egg.

Several of our area parks have been filled with adults and children going to PokéStops to collect their Pokéballs. This is an awesome development in helping children link technology with outdoor activity. Numerous landmarks have associated PokéStops teaching our kids about the history of our beloved city while playing the game.

It all sounds so wonderful. No more fighting our kids to go outside. No more pulling them off the couch. No more buying home exercise equipment that collects dust. However, it’s not all that glamorous! While our children are outside, they are not interacting with the outside world, just walking through it.

Pokémon GO has its pitfalls. Literally, you can fall while playing because you are unaware of your surroundings. There is also a growing concern that criminals may wait near rare PokéStops to take advantage of unsuspecting players. A recent 15 car pile-up on our freeways was related to a player who wanted to catch a rare Pikachu while driving.

Ultimately, if you are going to play Pokémon GO, always be vigilant of your surroundings, stay in familiar areas, keep an eye on your kids, wear sunscreen and stay hydrated.

Encourage your children to stop playing intermittently to look at the landscape and the history around town. Use the game to explore our city and all it has to offer.  By the way, if you have extra lures available, drop them off at The Children’s Hospital so kids who can’t go out to play can catch Pokémon, too.

Author: Sky Izaddoost, MD

Dr. Izaddoost, known as "Dr. Sky," grew up in San Antonio, Texas, as the youngest of four children. As a child, she was always interested in medicine, but her love of pediatrics grew while in medical school and blossomed after she had her own children. Dr. Sky received a Bachelor of Arts degree in biochemistry from Rice University, Houston, Texas, and received her medical degree from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, where she also met her husband, Dr. Brandon Bolfing. Dr. Sky then completed her training at the University of Texas in Houston Pediatric Residency Program, working at Memorial Hermann Children's Hospital and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Although she left San Antonio for her education, her heart and passion remained in San Antonio. She strives to promote the health and healing of children, while creating a relaxed atmosphere that promotes communication, education, and a touch of fun. Dr. Sky is board certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and has an extensive history of volunteer work, including working as a Caring Clown, giving lectures on childhood weight management, and inspiring increased bicycle helmet use through educational events. She enjoys spending time with her family, fishing (not very well), scrapbooking, and playing with her two beautiful daughters.

2 thoughts on “Gotta catch some exercise this summer? Pokémon GO to the rescue”

  1. Good Morning Dr. Izaddoost,
    We recently moved to the Canyon Lake area, and you came highly recommended by our family’s pediatrician Dr. Lorelai Gonzalez. We were wondering if you are accepting new patients as you are closer in the Stone Oak area to us then Dr. Gonzalez would be out at Alamo Ranch (where we recently moved from). If you are not accepting new patients perhaps you can refer me to someone who is. Thank you in advance, -Regina Singh


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