Best Cardio for Bad Knees – 8 Exercises That Will Help You Recover 

Best Cardio Exercises for Bad Knees

June 5, 2019

It is inevitable that as you age, your body also experiences more pain. Some of the things that you used to be able to do easily might take more time to do now. Your metabolism may no longer work as fast as it used to, and you may need to be more careful about what you eat. It is a fact of life that as you age, your body also does.

However, this does not mean that you will no longer be able to do the things you love. Remember, the occurrence of injuries and illnesses isn’t actually determined by age. Everyone is susceptible to them. Therefore, it is important to understand that taking care of one's body is required of every human being, no matter their age. It is never too late to start taking care of your body.

One area that most people tend to have problems with is their knees. The knees are among the most important joints of your lower body since they allow you to move your lower legs. Without them, you will not be able to crouch, run, walk, or even stand by yourself! They also help in maintaining your balance. Not to mention, your back is able to support your body weight with the help of your knees.

But what should you do if your knees are no longer in the best condition? And how can you keep your knees in good shape?

The Benefits of Cardio Workouts:

A quick Google search on cardio exercises will point you to their numerous benefits. For one, cardio exercise is a vital element of every weight management program since it allows you to lessen your risks of having health issues. Another factor that makes cardio workouts a staple in fitness programs is that the routines allow your body to acclimate to the effects of more intense workouts. Cardio workouts emphasize the importance of repetition and rhythm. They focus on gradually raising your heart rate. Doing this will then help you burn calories. With that, you lose weight in a healthy manner. Aside from that, cardio workouts also improve your endurance since you’re required to continuously do the exercise routines for a specific amount of time.

Not yet convinced about the benefits of including a cardio workout in your fitness program routine? Here are other known benefits:

  • It strengthens your heart, facilitating its job of pumping blood throughout the body.
  • It exercises your lungs, increasing its capacity to take in more air in one breath.
  • It helps maintain your mental, emotional, and overall well-being, making you healthier and stronger in more ways than one.
  • It lessens stress, providing a healthy way to release tension.
  • It improves bone density when paired with weight training and strengthening exercises.

How Bad Knees Impact Certain Types of Cardio Exercises:

When you think of exercises, it’s probably images of lifting weights and running laps that immediately come to mind. What you may not realize is that most of these workout routines greatly rely on your knees. A great exercise routine works out the whole body. But what if your knees are prone to strain?

Cardio workouts are actually flexible and can be tailored to fit your needs. There are many different types of cardio workouts. In fact, you’ll even find 10-minute low-impact cardio exercises for weak knees that can help you lose weight!

Causes of Knee Pain and How You Can Preserve Your Knees:

Causes of knee pain are many and varied. One of the reasons for weak knees is that the condition can be genetic since body structures tend to be similar among family members. Therefore, if a family member or relative has knee injury, it is likely that you will encounter knee pains as well.

In a 2017 study among young athletes, it was discovered that previous knee-related injuries also contribute to knee pain in your later years. Aside from that, knee pains can also be caused by deteriorating health. Since the cells in your body also have limits when it comes to regenerating themselves, it is inevitable that knee pain comes with either getting sick or getting old.

Lastly, the reasons for knee pains can also be psychological in nature. According to a 2016 study, anxiety, stress, and lack of sleep can affect your physical health, which includes your knees.

So how can you preserve your knees? Aside from having the right diet and avoiding food that aggravates your knee pain, it is important to strengthen them and take note of the dos and don’ts when it comes to working out with weak knees.

Best Cardio for Bad Knees

It is important to remember that doing cardio requires a proper warm-up, activities with continuous movements but moderate intensity, and a proper cool-down to avoid any further knee injury.

With those in mind, here are eight best cardio for bad knees:

1. Step Touches:

Doing step touches is an ideal cardio workout for beginners with bad knees because it starts with basic side steps. However, the key to making this cardio exercise work is making your movement larger and wider as the workout progresses. Spread your arms and swing them away from you so that your movements impact your upper body. Want to try doing step touches?

2. Low-Impact Jumping Jacks:

Fret not—you’re not actually supposed to jump with both legs at the same time, so don’t worry about those knees. The keyword here is "low-impact." This exercise simply requires you to do side steps and reach your arms up in the air. It's similar to regular jumping jacks in form, but not in intensity, so it doesn’t put too much pressure on the knees. Learn how to do low impact jumping jacks by watching the video below.

3. March with an Exercise Ball:

If you have an exercise ball at home, up the intensity of your workout by doing marches with it. Hold the ball with both hands above your head. Bring the ball down as you bring one knee up and let them meet in front of your torso. Do the same with the other knee. 

March with an Exercise Ball

4. Step-Ups:

Another one of the best low impact cardio exercises is the step-up. Use an aerobic platform, or if you don’t have one at your disposal, use the bottom stair of your house. This simple exercise involves placing your right foot onto the step, then the left, so that you’re standing on the step. Then, step down from the platform, starting with your right foot. Keep your chest high and your spine neutral. Repeat the movements and switch sides, starting with your left foot. Doing this exercise regularly will help you strengthen your knees, so you’ll no longer have to worry about using the stairs.

5. Treadmill:

You will definitely use your knees when on a treadmill. But what’s great about using the treadmill as your staple cardio workout equipment is that you can control the intensity of your exercise. As mentioned, the key to fully benefiting from doing cardio workouts is if you do them with repetition and rhythm. With the treadmill, you can control how you walk, run, and rest, and you can pace yourself. This allows you to have a low impact cardio workout while using your knees.

Best Cardio Exercises for Bad Knees - treadmill

6. Elliptical Machine:

Using an elliptical machine is another great workout similar to running on a treadmill. It also provides support to your knees during your cardio workout since your feet never leave the pedals. Your whole body is more stable while working out. Using an elliptical machine also helps you focus on exercising other parts of your upper body such as your back, hips, or neck.

Best Cardio Exercises for Bad Knees - Elliptical Machine

7. Rowing Machine:

While the knees help your back in carrying your body weight, your quadriceps and hamstrings (or thigh muscles) are the ones responsible for assisting your knees to do their work. Using a rowing machine allows the body to be in a sitting position while still working out the arms, back, abdominals, and leg muscles, among others.

Best Cardio Exercises for Bad Knees - Rowing Machine

8. Swimming:

Work out your whole body with the help of water. There is no direct impact on your knees when you float on water, so swimming is a great choice for a cardio workout. Aside from strengthening your lower body without straining the knees, it is effective in increasing your heart rate. This then helps you burn stored fat, which in turn will help you burn calories and manage your weight.

Best Cardio Exercises for Bad Knees - Swimming

9. Pool bike

Just like swimming, a pool aqua bike reduces pressure on your joints and knees resulting in a much safer workout during a recovery process. If you are unfamiliar with this type of cardio equipment, check out our review of the best pool aqua bikes.

As mentioned, it is never too late to start taking care of your knees. Do not be discouraged if you have weak knees. With proper exercise, you no longer have to worry about not being able to do the things you love or avoid certain activities for fear of hurting yourself. Start now with the cardio workouts listed above and use those knees with confidence.

About the author 

Kevin Lee

Health and fitness have always been a passion for me; whether its being in the weight room, going for a run before work or even participating in a half iron man triathlon. ShapeJunkie was created to share to knowledge and love of fitness with others.

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