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Walking your dog is a good way to get regular exercise. But a new study included in the surgery publication of the Journal of the American Medical Association finds there is some risk in this as well. Here's NPR's Patti Neighmond.
PATTI NEIGHMOND, BYLINE: Walking calmly is fine, of course. It's when a dog yanks or lunges on their leash you can fall and break a bone. That's what happened to 69-year-old Susan Bush when she took her shepherd mix, Piper, outside.
SUSAN BUSH: A bear came out of the woods, and I held on to her leash to encourage her not to chase the bear.
NEIGHMOND: But the dog lunged, and Bush ended up breaking her leg. She had surgery and rehab but still struggles to walk.
BUSH: I was a speed walker, and I'm - you know, I can barely hobble around.
NEIGHMOND: Older people are more vulnerable to fractures. And orthopedic surgeon Jaimo Ahn says he's seeing patients like Bush more and more. He headed the study at the University of Pennsylvania, which looked at patients 65 and older who went to hospital ERs after they fell while walking their dog.
JAIMO AHN: What we found was interesting and a little bit unexpected.
NEIGHMOND: Between 2004 and '17, the number of these injuries more than doubled. The most common fracture? The upper arm.
AHN: That makes sense because usually, when you fall, you try to brace yourself with your arms.
NEIGHMOND: But nearly 1 in 5 people suffered more dangerous hip fractures. Now, Ahn doesn't want to discourage dog-walking. Neither does preventive medicine specialist Dr. Tim Church.
TIM CHURCH: Sitting on that couch hours on end carries extensive health and mental health risks, and the benefits of being physically active far outweigh the risks of being inactive.
NEIGHMOND: And even though these injuries are on the rise, Church says they're still pretty rare.
CHURCH: Life's a contact sport. There's risk with everything. There's risk with jogging. There - risk with driving to work. And there's certainly going to be risk associated with walking a dog.
NEIGHMOND: If you want to be on the safe side, he says, go to a dog park where your dog can be off-leash. Patti Neighmond, NPR News.
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