Pokémon Go got me moving
Simon and Lucy are keeping active with help from a popular game
It's a funny old thing really. Before this game came along, both myself and my wife Lucy struggled to get out very often, and were loath to go out some days even when we were feeling good.
I’m living with bronchiectasis, a long-term lung condition that makes you tired and breathless. And Lucy is living with terminal cancer. I care for her, she cares for me. And we both care for her elderly dad. It's a hard struggle, especially if we both have bad days on the same day, but we somehow muddle through.
I’m sure you’ve been there. When you’re feeling really tired or out of breath (and sometimes the two go hand in hand), all you really want to do is rest. Often I just look through Facebook or internet forums, or lie down and try to get a bit of sleep.
This game, Pokémon Go, came along and changed all of that!
Setting out on an adventure
The adventure, challenge and motivation all comes at that instant moment you tap on the app on your phone, and open up the game. A map appears showing your neighbourhood, and the game follows you as you walk around. Now and then – BRRRR! – your phone rumbles and a creature appears on the screen! It’s a Pokémon!
From that moment, you're hunting these little Pokémon creatures, looking for the ones you've not yet caught.
You also sometimes get a Pokémon egg, and you have to walk 2, 5 or 10 kilometres to make them hatch. The motivation to hatch an egg can push you on for ages! And it’s a great way to see just how far you’ve managed to walk that day.
Sights and sounds
It’s exciting, wondering which types you’re going to find this time, and where you’ll end up. Relaxing too, because sometimes it’s stressful indoors, and it’s good to get out and away from it all.
We go to all sorts of places. There’s a large local park just round the corner from us, so we go there some days (and nights!). It’s nice there, because the park has some standing stones which are wonderful to look at, and there’s a path to follow as you walk around, leading you to a flower garden and through some copses.
Sometimes we pop into town – there’s a few Pokéstops, places where you can get items in the game, as you go up past the local sorting office and parade of shops. Now and then you’ll bump into other people of all ages playing the game and occasionally end up having a friendly chat with other players.
There’s a quiet little route Lucy and I enjoy walking sometimes, admiring all the fantastic houses. We wander past a lovely cricket ground and sometimes stop to watch if someone is playing.
It all adds up
After a while though, you do get tired. I’ll tend to look for a seat and have a rest, and if I’ve been out for an hour or more, I’ll hop on the nearest bus and head home.
It’s great fun, and it’s certainly helped us to get out and about more than we were doing before. Especially in good weather!
Just this morning I was out for an hour, playing the game before heading off to do my weekly shopping. I feel terrible now mind you. Chest hurts, hacking coughing, but I have coughed up a fair bit of the stuff that was sitting in my lungs not going anywhere (thank you bronchiectasis!). And I know all that exercise builds up and makes everything more efficient in the long run.
Our enthusiasm for Pokémon Go has not diminished yet, and I'm not sure it will. Sometimes you just need something to motivate you on those tricky days, so you can enjoy the sights, sounds, and occasional interaction with other people you may not otherwise get.