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"Pokemon Go" is secretly a fitness app. If you look beyond the cuteness of Pikachu and the simple battle mechanics, few games are more effective at getting players off the couch.

It's part of the game's mission. According to a study reported by the National Institutes of Health, the game "leads to significant increases in physical activity over a period of 30 days ... [with] engaged users increasing their average activity by 1,473 steps a day or 26%."

"Pokemon Go" has turned me into a runner but I'm not a serious one. All I do is jog around my city hunting for pocket monsters.

To increase your activity, focus on hatching eggs. That gameplay wrinkle has been part of "Pokemon Go" since its inception. Eggs contain random Pokemon — some of them exclusive — that are difficult to get, such as a shiny Deino. That's one of the motivators that keep my feet on the pavement. Plus, you may snare a rare Tirtouga as you jog.

Here are tips on how to use the game to keep fit and maintain that New Year's resolution:

Gear up: Beyond a smartphone, good shoes, a breathable face mask and the right clothes for the season, "Pokemon Go" running requires a device that automatically catches Pokemon for you. Nintendo sells the Pokemon Go Plus and the Poke Ball Plus. These devices connect to the game via Bluetooth and you just have to press a button to initiate a catch. You'll know if it is successful by the subtle vibrations.

Plan a route: As you learn about Pokemon nests and hot spots, you also discover things about your community, like an out-of-the-way park you didn't know about. Keep in mind that nests usually rotate out after a week or so.

Take your time: "Pokemon Go" running is all about catching pocket monsters. You can run for a half-hour while pressing the button on your Poke Ball Plus, then spend the next 10 minutes walking while looking over your catches and transferring unneeded ones to keep space. The most important thing is distance. The game rewards players who hit 50 kilometers (about 31 miles) or more each week as part of the Adventure Sync goal.

"Pokemon Go" isn't guaranteed to help you lose weight in 2021, but it is a great motivator to nudge you to a healthier lifestyle.