Dog walking may not be that beneficial for older adults, confirms new study

A pet looking at her owner
A female dog is looking at her owner. Bhaswati/ IBTsg

A new study report published in the journal JAMA Surgery has revealed that older adults are at an increased risk to get injured due to dog walking habit. The study conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that the number of elderly people who got injured during dog walking has spiked, from about 1,700 in 2014 to about 4,400 in 2017.

Dog ownership is widely considered to be one of the healthiest habits among old age people, as it helps them to stay active in their retirement life. However, minor to major falls during dog walking are also quite common, and the study report revealed that elderly women are at higher risk of getting injured when compared to men.

"Considering that older patients are more vulnerable to fractures owing to falls or axial muscle compression forces inherent to walking motions, a risk-benefit analysis with respect to dog walking as an exercise alternative is essential to minimizing injury risk," wrote the researchers in the study report.

It should be noted that hip fractures are the most common injury faced by elderly people during dog walking. Interestingly, nearly 80 percent of the people who suffered from hip fractures are women. Experts believe that the lower bone density of women is one of the main reasons which make them more prone to injuries like hip fractures.

Jaimo Ahn, an orthopaedic surgeon and the lead author of the study revealed that older people are often underestimating the risk of developing injuries while doing dog walking. The surgeon also added that some people may not be that prepared enough to handle the pet as they should be.

A few days back, research conducted by experts at Michigan State University revealed that personalities of pet dogs are prone to change over the course of time. As per researchers who took part in the study, just like humans who undergo personality changes after going through big changes in life, dogs are also prone to such personality changes.