Pokémon GO is one of the most fun ways to get fit while playing around in AR (augmented reality) on the go. It works across your smartphone and tablet. It even links directly into your social media profiles, a connection that allows you to share gifts and ‘mons with friends from around the world. When you’re done catching, trading, and upgrading your Pokémon, you can engage them in battles and raids across the real world to earn coins and chances at catching rare monsters.

But did you know that you can also play Pokémon GO without even using your handheld device? With the help of a fitness tracker or a smartwatch like the Apple Watch, you can convert your recorded real-world distance into progress in the Pokémon GO world. It’s actually quite simple, and you’ll find that it’s worth taking advantage of⁠—even if you don’t often go outside or go to a gym for exercise. In fact, active VR fitness gaming is the perfect complement to an AR game like ⁠Pokémon GO where fitness translates to game progress. Here’s how:

Set Your Favorite Pokémon As a Buddy

As you catch Pokémon in the world of Pokémon GO, you will be able to assign one of them as your personal buddy. This essentially means that they get to join along with you on your adventures. It also means that they show up next to your name when other players tap on it. Finally, it means that they benefit by periodically turning up with fresh Pokémon candies, each of which is specific to each ‘mon. Pokémon candies are the primary currency for leveling up and evolving your Pokémon to their advanced forms, which makes them invaluable in your quest to catch ’em all.

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The important part of buddying your favorite Pokémon up with you in Pokémon GO is that they turn the general distance recorded from walking, running, and general exercise into progress toward the aforementioned Pokémon candies. When a Pokémon is buddied up with you, going on a jog or run while the game is tracking your fitness progress basically means that the buddied Pokémon gets more powerful as you get more powerful.

Note that every Pokémon has a different threshold that needs to be reached before it produces another candy. Some are easier to level up while others are much tougher. It simply comes down to how hard you’re willing to work to power up your buddy.

Enable Adventure Sync

Without access to your mobile device’s fitness data logs, it’s impossible for Pokémon GO to know that you’re doing anything active when the game isn’t open and broadcasting your positional data over GPS. That’s where Adventure Sync comes in. It’s a toggleable option setting from Pokémon GO’s main settings menu which tells your device to let Pokémon GO take a peek at whatever fitness data it’s stored since your most previous login. The fitness data itself is stored in apps like Apple Health and Google Fit, and is generally fed to those apps through heart rate monitors, fitness trackers, and fitness tracking-enabled smartwatches.

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It’s important to note that Adventure Sync does not look at anything other than distance. For instance, it isn’t taking into consideration the exact amount of kcal you’re burning on an ECG-enabled fitness tracker. It is looking at the distance your fitness tracker has registered that you’ve moved since your most previous login. The trick that makes this work for VR fitness games, however, is that distance in most fitness trackers is determined by a gyroscope that can be easily tricked when you’re playing fairly intense VR fitness games.

Play Intense VR Fitness Games

You can trick Pokémon GO into thinking you’re moving much, much further than you’re actually moving by playing games that require large amounts of motion from your hands and arms. For instance, Beat Saber and BOXVR are both high-intensity games that push you to move your arms in sustained repetitions, an action which throws off most gyroscopes by telling them that you’ve actually moved quite extreme distances by the power of your arms alone.

For instance, spending an hour and 15 minutes throwing jabs and hooks in BOXVR tricked my Apple Watch S2 into thinking that I’d gone on a 6-mile run. This translated into 4 new candies for my Machoke, tipping me over into the exact amount that I’d needed to evolve it into a Machamp. Thanks, Adventure Sync!

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You can also play games like The Thrill of the Fight, Creed: Rise to Glory, Sparc, Climbey, Echo Arena, and any others that have you moving your arms around quite consistently. All of them will help accelerate your progress in Pokémon GO, just as long as you’re wearing a fitness tracker that’s connected to a device with Pokémon GO installed and Adventure Sync enabled.

Enjoy the Rewards

A more powerful buddy Pokémon isn’t the only reward you can gain with Adventure Sync in Pokémon GO. You can also earn item rewards in 5 km, 25 km, and 50 km increments. All of which are tracked by Adventure Sync and pushed to your device once you’ve logged them.

But that’s not all. You can also hatch eggs, found at Poké Stops and in gifts, that contain random rare Pokémon. Eggs are hatched by crossing a certain threshold of distance, either in the game itself or through Adventure Sync, and each egg belongs to a different tier that requires a different distance threshold to be crossed in order for the egg to hatch. Eggs are tiered at 2 km, 5 km, 7 km, and 10 km. The highest likelihood of finding a truly rare Pokémon is hidden behind the 10 km egg tier, which means that you’ll really need to work to hatch one—if you’re lucky enough to find one in the first place!


Pokémon GO is available to download for free on devices that support the most up-to-date versions of Apple iOS or Google Android. It’s an always-online monster-collection game that uses your mobile device’s GPS to track your position in its persistent world, using real-world landmarks and weather patterns to drive players toward in-game goals—including cooperation with other players. The workout methods described in this guide can be used by lone players, or as a tip for multiple players looking to work out more socially with one another, using Pokémon GO mechanics and active VR fitness gaming to incentivize a healthier lifestyle.


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