Fitness Tips

5 Great Cardio Exercises For People With Bad Knees

5 Great Cardio Exercises For People With Bad Knees

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Anyone with a knee injury, new or old, will know how easy it is to feel it flair up with extreme cardio. Running in particular is very tough on the knees – so what exercises can you do to get the heart rate up, without hurting already bad knees?

We caught up with Lorraine Furmedge, Fitness First PT Ambassador, to find out the best workouts and exercises for bad knees.

Before you lace up your running shoes and risk another niggle, try these.

1. Swimming

Head to the pool for a great workout that is low impact, versatile and provides a fantastic calorie burn. Whether you’re doing the butterfly or backstroke you’ll work all major muscle groups in your body including your glutes, abdominals and chest muscles.

WHICH IS THE BEST STROKE?

Freestyle, which tends to be the fastest stroke, can burn 100 calories every 10 minutes – more than jogging – but all of them will work your whole body.

2. Elliptical

Opt for an elliptical over a treadmill for minimal risk of knee injury. Your feet never leave the pedals, which means there is less of a chance to injure your knees, back, neck or hips. You’ll also get your heart rate up, making you work up a sweat! Increase the resistant to really test your endurance.

IS IT AS GOOD AS THE TREADMILL?

There’s a lot of discussion around which cardio machines burn more calories, and generally the treadmill does tend to come out on top given you are moving whilst also supporting the full weight of your body but elliptical trainers are fantastic for getting in a great cardio workout with a bit more support.

With any form of exercise, you get out what you put in so it all depends on how hard you push and challenge yourself. 

3. Stationary rowing

Rowing is a great way to burn calories without placing stress on your knee joints. Not only will you get a total body workout, you’ll also maximise your core strength with every pull. 

Amp up the intensity by increasing the resistance while maintaining speed for a real cardiovascular challenge!

WHAT IF IT FEELS TOO EASY?

The more you train on a certain machine, the more stamina and strength your body will gain in that particular area, meaning the harder you have to work each time to continue challenging yourself.

If calorie burning is your main aim, switch up your routine and use a mixture of machines and freestyle training – it will keep your body guessing and will test you in different ways.

4. Cycling

Whether you prefer hitting a stationary bike indoors or riding your bicycle outside, you’ll get a fantastic fat-burning workout that will gradually improve your knee flexibility and strength.

To ensure you don’t put pressure on your knees, avoid hills and stick to a flat terrain. Raise your seat level slightly to decrease any pressure on your kneecap.

WHAT RESISTANCE SHOULD YOU USE?

When it comes to cycling with resistance, there is no right or wrong answer. 

Low resistance is great for those people who are just getting into fitness as it allows you to start building up your stamina without over-exerting yourself. Likewise, those suffering with knee injuries may find this an effective and low impact way of getting their regular exercise sessions in without causing further damage.

Medium and high resistance is more suited to those with higher fitness levels and works really well when it comes to building strength in your legs and lower body. If you’ve recently recovered from a knee injury consider using resistance to increase your strength and safeguard against any further damage.

To combine cardio and strength try some interval training and switch between low resistance sprints and medium-high resistance climbs.

WHAT ABOUT SPIN CLASSES?

All good spin instructors will check for injuries before the class begins so let them know and they’ll be able to advise on how to best tackle the session.

Plus, the beauty of spin is that you can carry out the class at your own pace. Remember, you are in control and can adjust your pace according to your ability.

5. Step ups

For a low-impact cardio workout, turn to an aerobic step bench.

Step up onto the step with your right foot. Tap your left foot on the top of the step and then lower.

As you step up, your knee should be directly over your ankle to ensure you’re protecting your knees.

Repeat 10 times for a great calorie burn.

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