The American Osteopathic Association reports that close to one in two Americans say pain is a part of their daily life. Knee pain is the No. 2 cause of chronic pain, affecting one-third of all Americans. Reducing your body weight and staying physically fit will help to reduce the stress on your knees. You do this through stretching and low-impact aerobic exercises, which reduce the stress on the knee joint. Check with your health-care provider before beginning an exercise program for the first time or if you have been away from fitness programs for a while.
Swimming and Water Aerobics
Swimming is a low-impact exercise that allows you to exercise without putting any weight on your knee joint. Many public pools offer times where you can go in and swim laps as well as water aerobics classes. Even simply walking in the water provides an aerobic workout. The addition of the water’s resistance improves the workout, and the buoyancy of water helps take your body weight off your joints. Water aerobics classes vary based on ability. Shallow-water aerobics is performed in water up to chest level and uses water resistance to burn calories. Deep-water aerobics has zero joint impact on the knee and you perform exercises with the use of flotation equipment.
Walking is a low-impact aerobic exercise. But there are precautions you should take when it comes to your knees. Look for good walking surfaces that are flat and not too hard. Make sure that you are wearing well-fitting shoes that provide good support. If you an unable to walk outside or do not have access to a treadmill, indoor walking is a good alternative. Doing moves like walking in place or side-steps provide low-impact exercise that burns calories without putting a lot of strain on your knees. It provides the same aerobic exercise as walking but you do it while standing in place.
Elliptical workouts require the use of the elliptical machine but can provide a high-intensity aerobic workout without putting too much strain on your knees. Another advantage to the elliptical machine is that most models allow you to pedal in reverse. This action works your hamstrings and calf muscles, which play a role in supporting your knee.
Stationary bikes provide another low-impact aerobic workout. However, there are precautions for the knee that require consideration. Make sure that the seat of the bike is high enough so that you are not bending your knee more than 90 degrees. For less strain on the knees and the back, a recumbent bike is another option. Unlike a traditional stationary bike, the recumbent reclines and has a seat with back support. Your legs are out in front of you and there is less strain on the knees.
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: Orthopaedic Fast Facts
- American Osteopathic Association: Chronic Knee Pain Tip Sheet
- The Walking Site: Are You Abusing Your Knees?
- Leslie Sansone’s Walk at Home: Leslie Sansone
- MayoClinic.com: Are Elliptical Machines Better Than Treadmills for Basic Aerobic Workouts?
Deborah Lundin is a professional writer with more than 20 years of experience in the medical field and as a small business owner. She studied medical science and sociology at Northern Illinois University. Her passions and interests include fitness, health, healthy eating, children and pets.