People who cannot hit a fitness center to release work-related stress might find help in a “Pokemon Go” gym.

A research team, including Norito Kawakami, professor of mental health at the University of Tokyo, found that workers who play the smartphone game for one month or longer can lower their psychological stress levels.

“We believe that the players’ mental health improves mainly because they go outdoors, interact with other people and become physically more active,” Kawakami said.

The team’s findings, described as the first scientific study on the association between playing “Pokemon Go” and mental health, were published in the British online journal Scientific Reports on Sept. 7.

To advance in the game, players need to walk around outdoors to obtain items, catch monsters and do battle in gyms.

The researchers conducted two online surveys of 2,530 full-time workers in Japan, ranging from 20 to 79 year olds. The first survey was held from November 2015 to February 2016, before the game was released in Japan in July 2016. The second one was done in December 2016.

Through questionnaires, the subjects provided self-examinations about the degree of their psychological stress.

The mental health of 246 subjects who had played “Pokemon Go” for a month or longer showed improvements in the December 2016 survey.

For the remaining 2,284 participants, the stress level remained about the same.

The researchers said the degree of improvement was statistically significant after excluding such influences as age and smoking habits.

The team said the study showed that games such as “Pokemon Go” that use augmented reality technology have the potential to improve mental health.

Playing “Pokemon Go” has been described as an effective way to reduce depression, reclusion and other conditions, but there had been no scientific evidence to back up such theories, the researchers said.