California Moves For Mental and Physical Well-being

Maddux Eckerling
3 min readMay 11


I was given the huge honor of speaking at the capitol on May 1st. Through a new advisory council, the governor and CA legislature are launching a campaign to get California moving to better our physical and mental well-being. As a mental health activist, I was asked to speak about the importance of physical movement for mental health.

I am the Bring Change to Mind President at my high school. BC2M is a national organization dedicated to reducing and hopefully ending the stigma around mental illness. With clubs in high schools across the nation, BC2M works to educate schools and give voices to those minoritized and discriminated against due to mental illness.

I have been a member of BC2M for 3 years now, and have been the president of the club for the last two years. In this role as president, I have been able to host numerous school assemblies, teaching my peers about a wide range of mental health and well-being topics.

The National Institute of Mental Health reports that 32% of youth aged 12–17 experience anxiety, and 37% have feelings of hopelessness. I am part of these statistics.

I am here because exercise saved my life. In November of 2021, I spent ten days in the hospital after attempting to end my life.

While there, everyone said, “You need to move” and “When you go home, exercise.” Then I got home, and everyone in my support system told me “Find a hobby that gets you moving” and “If you don’t move, you won’t get better.”

While searching for an exercise that fits my personality, I learned some of my friends had joined the climbing gym in town, so I went to check it out and immediately fell in love, so I became a member. I started going to the climbing gym every morning before school.

Climbing taught me never to give up, to try even if I might fall, to step outside my comfort zone, and many more lessons, but most importantly, it taught me that movement is the way to a happier day.

The days I start with movement, whether exercise or stretching, I can feel my day improve. You don’t have to join a gym or compete in sports. Simply going for walks or doing yoga can significantly improve your mental well-being.

A UCLA study showed that regular exercise could significantly reduce these symptoms, and because of activity, poor mental health days dropped by more than 40% among those who exercised regularly. Harvard Health, says that Sleep deprivation can affect your mental health, and John Hopkins Medicine says “We have solid evidence that exercise does, in fact, help you fall asleep more quickly, and improves sleep quality”. Getting good sleep is vital to mental well-being, and by exercising, we improve our sleep and in turn, our overall health.

When we move, endorphins are released, which helps reduce stress, and can help fight depression. Harvard studies have shown that exercise can be as effective as medications and psychotherapies.

Life is stressful, and burnout is a challenge many people deal with daily; by exercising, we can give our minds a much-needed break. Movement also allows us to connect with our bodies and express ourselves, which can help people gain confidence.

For many, getting the motivation to exercise can be a roadblock. Finding someone to exercise with will keep you accountable and the social interaction is a benefit.

When the weather is nice, a group of friends and I go to a local field and play soccer. We are not competitive and laugh through most of it. This is a great way to get exercise because you are able to get your heart rate up, while not stressing about being good at a sport.

This month of May, I urge all Californians to get up and move at least 30 minutes daily. Together we can move into a healthier and happier tomorrow.

Let’s get moving!!

To learn more about California Moves for Mental and Physical Well-being, visit



Maddux Eckerling

Let's explore the greater community's burning questions about the LGBTQ+ community and explore LGBTQ+ experiences and history.