Is Pokemon Go better than a gym membership?

Shockingly, catching them all takes actual effort.

Rebecca Fleenor Former Project Manager
Rebecca Fleenor was an editorial project manager. She enjoys all things wacky, techie and entertaining, and she's usually off binge-watching films and television shows (and writing them in her spare time).
Rebecca Fleenor
2 min read

Has your step count recently spiked from a casual 3,000 steps per day to a pumped-up 15,000 steps per day? If so, you may have taken up the newest exercise craze mobile game Pokemon Go.

The popular new game has inspired a slew of entertaining conspiracy theories, including ones that suggest Pokemon Go was paid for by the Department of Health. And it's not hard to see why you might be suspicious. Unlike most video games, which allow you to play from the comfort of your own bed, Pokemon Go users get the most out of the game by interacting with the actual world.

Specifically, walking.


Jogger Award Level 2 and Egg Incubation

Screenshots by Rebecca Fleenor/CNET

Pokestops and gyms (the places where you battle your Pokemon) can only be accessed by physically venturing to them. And some features of the game, such as egg incubation, require walking to be unlocked. While you can light some incense (in the game) and lure Pokemon right to your own living room, you'll be extremely limited on the varieties of Pokemon you can collect without going outside.

The game isn't even trying to hide its walking agenda. There are various Jogger awards you can win by reaching certain walking milestones.

How many calories am I burning playing Pokemon Go?

Most people -- whether or not they're playing Pokemon Go -- will burn somewhere between 50 and 200 calories per mile walked. This will vary depending on your weight and the speed at which you walk. As a rule of thumb, a person will burn around 100 calories per mile.

Pokemon Go does not calculate in miles -- it uses the metric system -- but a human walks roughly 5 kilometers per hour. We did a few conversions so you can see exactly how much bang you're getting for your buck.

Calories burned: Pokemon Go vs. The Gym

Calories burned
Eggs Incubated (2.0 km) = 25 min 125 cal
Eggs Incubated (5.0 km) = 1 hour 300 cal
Eggs Incubated (10.0 km) = 2 hours 600 cal
Jogger Level 1 (10.0 km) = 2 hours 600 cal
Jogger Level 2 (100.0 km) = 20 hours 6,000 cal
Vigorous weightlifting, 1 hour 440 cal
Swimming laps, 1 hour 510 cal
Aerobics, 1 hour 480 cal
Sitting on your couch negligible

So maybe playing Pokemon Go isn't more effective than, say, a 1-hour spinning class, but it sure helps on days when you'd rather catch Pokemon than go to the gym.

Get a step counter

If your Pokemon Go addiction means less time for the gym, you might as well track the steps you take hunting Pokemon. Fitness trackers will give you the most data, but if you don't own one, you can use your phone to track your steps. Here are the best step-tracking apps for iPhone and Android.

Physical activity calorie estimates courtesy of the CDC.

Watch this: Pokemon Go: What are gyms?