By Angela Davis

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Sticking to a regular exercise routine has its challenges. Even though the health benefits are well-noted, many of us fail to exercise consistently.

But not Loretta Jensen. Yep, Loretta is getting ready to celebrate her 98th birthday next month.

Three times a week you’ll find her working out at a gym for people who have a high risk of heart disease. Today she told WCCO what motivates her to keep moving.

When Loretta Jensen was 90 years old, she suffered a heart attack. During her recovery, her doctor sent her to the cardio rehab gym at Mercy Hospital’s Unity Campus and told her to work out there for three weeks.

It’s been eight years.

“I just love coming here. It’s the best place. I’d never leave if I didn’t have to,” Jensen said.

Loretta does four laps up and down the hallway with her walker. It takes about 30 minutes.

“If I didn’t walk, I don’t think I’d be able to walk that good,” Jensen said.

Then she makes her way to the recumbent bike to pedal for about 30 minutes. And chat with other gym members, like Joe. He’s 83.

“I always think, I gotta go, I gotta go… because it has helped me so much,” Jensen said.

Pat Kueppers is an occupational therapist. One the many staff on hand to assist.

“Loretta is fantastic. She’s always happy, always smiling. She’s very social, always talking with all the other folks here,” Kueppers said. “The goal is for people to be independent, independent as they can be. We are here to help when they need it but they are doing what they can do on their own.”

When she was younger, Loretta says she stayed active by tending to her garden each day.

“When I get out of bed in the morning, I go right up to the slide door. I can see all my flowers. I look at them,” Jensen said. “I feel bad now with the walker that I can’t go out to my garden.”

So she focuses on what she can do.

Loretta’s birthday is April 27. Again, she will be 98 years old.

The cardio rehab gym at Mercy Hospital’s Unity campus is open to the public. There is a fee of $25 a month for the community exercise program.

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