That’s what friends are for

Studies reveal what Oak Crest residents already know: being social is good for your health

Created date

April 29th, 2019
The Activities Seminar at Oak Crest showcases a sampling of the nearly 200 resident-run clubs and groups at the Parkville, Md., community. Jim Wetzel and Joanne Fennessey represent a group that produces resident publications.

The Activities Seminar at Oak Crest showcases a sampling of the nearly 200 resident-run clubs and groups at the Parkville, Md., community. Jim Wetzel and Joanne Fennessey represent a group that produces resident publications.

Everyone knows eating well and exercising can extend your life, but research now shows staying socially active is just as important.

A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that an active social life and close personal relationships can contribute to good health and longevity both in adolescence and as we get older.

Kathleen Mullan Harris, a sociologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, directed the study, which tracked more than 20,000 teens into adulthood. She analyzed and combined the results from four large long-term human studies of health and social life and concluded that the fewer social connections a person had, the worse their overall health.

“In adolescence, social isolation is equivalent to the effects of getting no exercise. The lack of social connections in old age is equivalent to having diabetes, in terms of increasing hypertension,” says Harris in an interview by The Boston Globe.

Harris noted the reverse is also true. “With each additional social connection that you have, you get an added beneficial effect for your health. The more, the better,” says Harris.

Opportunities to have fun, stay engaged

Community members of Oak Crest, an Erickson Living community in Parkville, Md., are taking this advice to heart. With 190 resident-driven groups, clubs, and organizations, there are plenty of opportunities at Oak Crest to have fun, stay engaged, and enjoy an active social life.

Whatever your interest, chances are Oak Crest already has a club for it. Want to try your hand at pickleball? How about quilting, painting, acting, or model yacht racing? Everything from book clubs to computers and bocce to billiards can be found at the 87-acre community. And if your hobbies and interests aren’t represented, it’s easy to start your own. Oak Crest has a team of professionals who are happy to help.

Community Resources Manager Nadine Wellington and her staff facilitate whatever Oak Crest residents need to accomplish their goals.

“Oak Crest provides you with the opportunity to do things you’ve never done before and maybe something that you’ve always wanted to do,” says Wellington. “It’s my job to help you fulfill those dreams.”

“We’ve had numerous clubs and activities form recently, ranging from a men’s book club and card groups to a coin club and a public speaking group. We also launched a resident art show that showcased a variety of artwork ranging from needlepoint and wood carvings to paintings and stained glass,” she says.   

For service-minded individuals, there are also plenty of volunteer opportunities at Oak Crest, from helping kids learn to read to making casseroles for Catholic Charities like Our Daily Bread and knitting blankets for local hospitals.

“I think many people are surprised when they discover just how many different resident-driven groups we actually have,” says Wellington. “Our residents continuously look to explore new ideas and try new things.”

See for yourself

This month, Oak Crest will host an Activities Seminar in the community’s Erickson Hall conference center showcasing a sampling of the community’s clubs and organizations.

“The Activities Seminar is an event worth attending,” says Wellington. “It really gives life to what you may have heard or read about the community. It’s one thing to read about an activity here but another thing to experience that personal touch with a room full of engaged people.”

In addition to a wide cross section of clubs and hobbies, volunteers from the Oak Crest Welcome Committee, as well as members from the resident leadership council, will be on hand to answer questions. Widescreen televisions will also loop video clips highlighting day-to-day life at the community.

“It’s a perfect opportunity for people who are considering Oak Crest to find out what it’s like from the people who already live here,” says Wellington. “I’m always amazed at the level of energy that permeates through this community. Our residents love to give their time and energy to so many causes. Our motto is: each new day offers a chance to shine!”