The message: Find the physical activity that inspires you and do it with devotion.
Health reports about the benefits of daily exercise for mental health always seem so dry and impersonal. No matter how cogent they may be, it’s always: “20 minutes of cardiovascular activity can help decrease depression in women over the age of 26, studies show.” The truth is, physical activity can take many forms and is highly personal.
For example, in 2014, Scott Warneke vowed to get on his skateboard every day, and it changed his life.
Now, closing in on 2016, he has kept going for close to 800 days, and he testifies that the daily ritual has improved his life and brightened his outlook. “Before 2014, I’d been going through what was essentially a three-year mental funk,” he told Curb Cut, a skating website. “I realized that skateboarding is one of the best things for my mental health—something that brings happiness and spurs creativity.” He recently graduated with a BFA in product design, “and honestly I have skateboarding to thank for that.” Scott’s cousin Sean Holboke decided to join him, and they’re documenting it on Instagram (Scott and Sean).
Living in Portland, Oregon, Warneke faced challenges right from the start, when the blizzards of 2014 rolled through the Pacific Northwest. “I was snowed in at my parents’ house in Scappoose for four days. I had to put on some snow boots, throw my board and shoes into a plastic bag in my backpack, and hike two miles in the snow down to skate an undercover ledge spot.”
The inspiring message: Find the physical activity that inspires you and do it with devotion. Don’t like to run? Take a walk in the park every day (check out this year’s Stanford University study about walking in nature). Find walking boring? Get yourself on a stationary bike with your smartphone and binge-podcast. Have fun on a swing set, dance on a rooftop; it doesn’t matter. The point is to make it a ritual, make time for it, and consider it essential for your mind, body, and soul.