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Exercise provides more benefits than just weight loss

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When she was younger, Patsy Hope Mitchell was active, playing tennis and describing herself as "fit." Even after she was diagnosed with clinical depression and bipolar disorder, she kept exercising.

But five abdominal surgeries in five years and a car accident that injured her neck benched the once active senior.

"After the wreck, I was a wreck," she said.

Pain in her neck and shoulders kept her from doing simple activities like carrying groceries in from her car. She tried massage therapy and chiropractics. The pain continued.

"It felt like I was being confined in a body that just wouldn't work," she said. "I felt so weak with even little stuff."

Finally, her family doctor recommended she work with a personal trainer.

"I thought 'How will that help?'" she said. "But I went, and I was impressed with what Mike (Greene, owner of Changing Lives) told me. He really zoned in on my areas."

Her core, she said, needed to be strengthened. She began to exercise and lift weights to regain strength in her muscles.

"I couldn't believe I was going to lift weights with my shoulder," she said.

As she began to regain use of her neck and shoulders, she learned more about how exercise helps with management of bipolar and depression.

"It's like managing diabetes," she said. "Exercise is one of the musts."

There are days, she said, it is difficult to get out of bed and go to the gym. Those are the days, she continued, that Mike can take a look at her and know what kind of day she is having.

"He is there to support you and listen to you," she said. "Sometimes he works you until you think you can't work another minute, but it is always what you need."

Although she didn't need to lose weight, she did lose a whole size due to her muscles gaining tone. She eats healthy and exercises at home and at the gym at times when she isn't working directly with her trainer.

She also takes a pottery class, something that was more difficult when her pain was high.

"It's very unusual to have pain in my shoulders and neck," she said.

One of her New Year's resolutions is to be sure she takes care of herself.

"You can't accomplish something if you don't believe in yourself." she said.

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