You can tell a lot about what a sport is going to do to you by looking at what happens to those who once played it at a high level.
By that token, mommas, don't let you babies grow up to play football. Even those without symptoms of concussion have bad knees, hips that don't work right. They look like ex-boxers.
On the other side of the ledger we have former basketball players. They age well. Those who don't abuse themselves, like Charles Barkley, look pretty good. Dr. J looks pretty good. You can choose to have a great life after basketball. Remember Walt Bellamy (right)? He's had a wonderful life.
Of course nothing beats golf for letting you age gracefully. Tom Watson. Enough said.
What happens to great athletes when the cheering stops is one thing. What happens to you, what you do, is the real question.
A lot of people are going to take the wrong lesson from today's report that you can overdo. This should not be news. Pound your middle age knees on the ground all day and they're going to ache all night, and the next day, too.
The real lesson is that it matters less how much you do than what you do. Swimming and cycling are good. Just don't be swimming the English Channel or trying to ride the Tour de France. Do it so long as it's fun, and when it's not fun stop doing it.
I got this lecture from my own radiologist a few years ago. I went to him with a bad knee. He took a picture. He came in, shook his head, told me how old I was, and said slow down.
Not stop. Slow down.
Walk, don't run.
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com