Gloomy Sunderland weather makes regular Australian visitor so down she had to boost her mental health

A Sunderland woman, who lives part of the year in Australia, says exercise has helped to lift her mood in the absence of sunshine.

Monday, 20th January 2020, 3:08 pm

As many people start to think about their lifestyle in January, Roker gym Fitness2000 is promoting, not only the physical benefits of exercise, but also the positive effect it can have on mental health.

Alison Pake, from Fulwell, whose job in IT means she divides her time between the UK and Australia, began attending the gym six weeks ago after noticing a dip in her mood and energy levels.

“Australia is a very active country with plenty of sunshine and when I come home to Sunderland I find that the bad weather really affects my mood. I end up sitting around, so I wanted to do something to challenge myself,” she said.

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Mental health wellbeing through exercise at Fitness 2000 with client Alison Pake and PT Matty Watson

Alison, who is in her fifties, attends regular sessions with personal trainer Matty Watson doing a mixture of weights and cardio.

“I think the hardest challenge is coming through the door for the first time,” she said.” Some women think gyms will just be full of men, but that’s not the case at all and there’s a great atmosphere here.

“I think a lot of women are put off using weights too because they think they will be bulky, but it’s a great way of toning up and improving your posture. I see people in their 60s, 70s and 80s coming to this gym and they have great energy levels and physique.”

In a matter of weeks, Alison already began noticing a difference, losing almost a stone and a half, toning up and feeling more upbeat thanks to the endorphins triggered by exercise.

Mental health wellbeing through exercise at Fitness 2000 with clients Chris Batty, PT Matty Watson (middle) and Alison Pake

PT Matty Watson works with a broad range of clients, from children to older generations, and says exercise’s ability to improve how someone feels about themself shouldn’t be underestimated.

Matty, who specialises in strength and conditioning, said: “From the first time someone uses a gym to a few weeks in you can really see the change in their confidence. Alison was new to using the gym, but I treated her like I would any of my clients. It’s important to teach them different ways to train the whole body and to set goals.”