While walking a dog provides older Americans with a valuable outlet for regular, physical activity, a Penn Medicine study has shown that fractures related to these walks have more than doubled between 2004 and 2017 in patients 65 and older. In this population, 78 percent of the fractures occurred in women, with hip and upper extremity breaks being the most common. This study was published in JAMA Surgery.
The rise in injuries in this population is a result of two trends, the researchers say: increased pet ownership and a greater emphasis, in recent years, on physical activity at older ages.
“Dog walking, which has repeatedly demonstrated social, emotional and physical health benefits, is a popular and frequently recommended activity for many older Americans seeking new ways to stay active,” says the study’s lead author Kevin Pirruccio, a second-year medical student in the Perelman School of Medicine. “This study highlights that while there are undoubtedly pros to dog walking, patients’ risks for falls must be factored into lifestyle recommendations in an effort to minimize such injuries.”
The study team includes senior author Jaimo Ahn, an associate professor of orthopaedic surgery, and research assistant Yeo Myoung Yoon.
Read more at Penn Medicine News.