Wellington Mayor Tory Whanau embracing gym after admitting alcohol problem

Wellington's Mayor is embracing a healthier lifestyle after admitting she had an alcohol problem late last year.

Tory Whanau says she now spends her spare time at the gym and is committed to a life of sobriety.

Wellington Mayor Tory Whanau has become a confessed gym junkie.

She's on a mission to improve her health and well-being after a tough first year in the city's top job.

"I was learning not only how to be a politician but a leader of the city, and I think we saw I faced quite a few public challenges," she said.

That led to her admitting she had a drinking problem. Since then - she's been making some big changes.

"I'm alcohol-free now and ever since I joined BFT it has absolutely helped me to get through."

The 40-year-old said the gym has also boosted her mental health.

"Since then I've felt like my life has changed quite a bit, I have more energy, I'm a lot happier," she said.

"I actually have a wonderful community around me, so I can just come here and be myself, and that'll help when things get stressful."

A recent UK study has found 78 percent of gym-goers felt exercising had a positive impact on their mental well-being.

Care NZ CEO Gill Hood runs an addiction support service in Wellington. She said there is good evidence for this.

"Physical exercise including going to the gym can certainly help somebody is in recovery from addiction," she said.

"It releases endorphins to the brain creating a feel-good feeling."

With huge challenges still on the horizon for Wellington, including the city's leaky infrastructure and an at-times dysfunctional council, the Mayor is adamant she can bear the weight of responsibility.

"This is gonna be a great year of delivery, I'm ready, I'm here to listen, I'm feeling strong, I'm feeling healthy, and I'm genuinely excited about my year as Mayor," she said.

A year that will test her strength.