Robert Lipsyte, journalist and author of In the Country of Illness
Anne-Marie Johnson, actress
Abigail Trafford, Washington Post columnist and author of My Time
Helen Kivnick, clinical psychologist, University of Minnesota
Ah, denial. It's gotten such a bad rap. But - can it ever be useful?
Our culture sends the message that there are no limitations in what we do. Boomers as well as "codgers" (as author Robert Lipsyte calls the generation pre-dating boomers) have taken fitness to an extreme. In doing so, they deny the realities of aging. As John Hobby showed in "Keeping Up" there's never too much, and too much is not enough.
When does trying to keep healthy become unhealthy? Host Alan Rosenberg asks at what point it becomes neurotic. What is the message being sent to the younger generation about aging? By being so compulsive about acting and looking younger than our years, it's as if we've become ageist against ourselves! It's a balancing act to be sure: exercise has undisputed benefits, but you can become a "fitness fascist." And all at the expense of a body that doesn't bounce back the way it used to.
Columnist Abigail Trafford suggests that we must learn to enjoy getting older. The process of keeping fit for its own sake must be enjoyed. And we must be aware of our limitations. As Dr. Kivnick points out, we can exercise all we want, but we can't postpone death. A limitation, indeed.