Great Cardio for Bad Knees?

Swimming makes good cardio workouts for bad knees.

Great Cardio for Bad Knees?

The knee-free exercises can help boost heart health while keeping sensitive knees safe.

Published July 9, 2012

The dilemma of many: you have weak knees but want a good workout.

Exercising with bad knees can be a painful experience. A bad knee can cause immense amounts of pain and greatly hinder the freedom of movement.

Performing cardiovascular exercises can therefore be very hard to accomplish, and can even cause significant amounts of damage in the long run.

What are the best knee-friendly exercises?

Got a Gym Membership?


Not only does swimming burn an incredible amount of calories (close to what you’d burn on a run), but it offers a wide variety of options to get your heart pumping in the water. As an alternative to your usual laps, try putting a buoy between your legs (squeeze it tight!) to get more of an upper-body workout, or hold on to a kickboard in front of you to work just your lower half.

Upper-Body Ergometer

This is that piece of equipment in the cardio area at your gym that looks like a bike for hands. Treat it like any other piece of cardio equipment—go for a long forty-five-minute stint or pound out a shorter and harder interval session. Warning: this will be extremely hard for just about everyone at first, since most people aren’t used to using only their upper body for cardio.

Rowing Machine

Just about every gym has a rowing machine or two, and they’re often some of the most underutilized pieces of cardio equipment. Rowing is mostly upper-body work (great for toning up your arms and shoulders), but your legs provide low-impact support by pushing against the machine with each stroke.

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(Photo: GettyImages)

Written by Ellis Moore,


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