Exercise is important for people of all ages, but it offers numerous benefits for older adults, including lowering the risk of falls, improving mental health and cognitive function, reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and helping muscles grow stronger. 

In honor of Active Aging Week, Oct. 2-8, we are recognizing Masonic Village at Lafayette Hill residents who are dedicated to their fitness programs all year. Whether they are using the Wellness Center multiple times a week, taking a fitness class or being active outside of Masonic Village, they are making physical fitness an important part of daily lives. 

Resident using exercise equipment

“It makes me very happy to see the gym being utilized and exercise classes being well-attended because it shows that residents realize how beneficial it is for their physical and mental health,” said Kara LaFreeda, wellness program manager for nearly 25 years. “Our job is to allow them the opportunity to achieve that healthy lifestyle, as well as encourage and support it. To see them improve their strength, endurance and balance, all while having fun, is my goal. Keeping residents active will allow them to maintain their independent lifestyle.” 

Catherine Wentz, 85, has utilized the Wellness Center for 19 years, making her the longest active resident there, Kara said. She exercises three times a week, mainly using the bikes and the treadmill. 

“I’m committed to it [exercise] and my health has improved,” Catherine said. “My doctor said, ‘Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it.’” 

Catherine started exercising after suffering a heart attack in 1998, prior to moving to Masonic Village. She decided to make exercise and eating well a priority in her life. “It’s very important to be active,” she said. “If you stop exercising and your legs go, you’re done. You’ve got to keep moving.” 

Liz Hosey, 80, visits the Wellness Center three times in a week to maintain muscular health, balance and weight. She suffered a setback a few months ago – a bad stomach virus – and only returned to the wellness center recently.  

“It feels great to be back,” she said. “Kara is so helpful and wonderful. Everyone should come here. Kara will design a program just for you, to help with your health.”

In addition to the Wellness Center and individualized fitness plan, Kara and her partner, Jeanine Hendrie, wellness manager, offer many fitness classes, including chair yoga, chair ballet, core/balance, heart health, bowling, golfing, putting and outdoor wellness walks. 

“These activities keep the residents happy and healthy,” she said. “You can see the change in their personalities when they finish working out.” 

Resident Bill Bowman, 81, visits the Wellness Center three to five times a week. Before coming to Masonic Village three years ago, he used to swim one mile a day, five days a week. That stopped during the pandemic. Bill decided to continue his fitness journey, doing cardiovascular activity and using upper and lower body weights. 

“It’s about limits,” he said. “I need to know my limits so I’m fresh, not tired. I’m so used to exercise now. My body tells me to get over here. If I don’t come, I feel lousy.”