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With a knee injury, the weight of your body on the joint when exercising or simply walking can cause pain. This, in turn, makes exercising more difficult. However, exercise is an important part of reducing or eliminating knee pain and regaining functional mobility.

Knowing the best exercises for bad knees will help you get back into a healthy routine. Let’s take a look at some of the best cardio exercises for bad knees.

But first…

Talk to Your Doctor Before Beginning Impact Cardio Exercises

You should never start a cardio workout or other exercise regime without talking to your doctor or physical therapist. They can let you know how to exercise with bad knees to lose weight. They will need information about how active you were pre-surgery to provide you accurate advice.

Asking about pain during exercise is important as well. While some minor discomfort can be normal when becoming physically active—especially with a knee injury—you need to know how much pain is normal and when to stop.

Generally, if the feeling goes beyond discomfort and on into actual pain, you pushed too hard. Light, careful exercise will help heal your knee, but if you overdo it, you could make things worse.

How to Exercise With Bad Knees to Lose Weight: Top 4 Best Exercises to Try

Elliptical Trainers

Running on a treadmill is miserable for people with bad knees, but an elliptical trainer offers less knee pain while still giving you all the benefits of cardio. Ellipticals do have one downside: they can’t match treadmills when it comes to calorie burn.

However, elliptical trainers are more supportive and not as hard on your joints and ligaments. Many experts recommend them as good cardio exercise options if you have problems like arthritis or tendonitis—never mind, just old age-related wear and tear.


If you have bad knees and are looking for an alternative to running or cycling as a cardio exercise, swimming is a great option. It’s low-impact on your joints and muscles, so it won’t irritate sensitive knees like other cardio activities might. Plus, the water provides cushioning from any impact that you usually experience with land workouts.

Swimming will strengthen every muscle in your body while being much more versatile than training outside. Whether you do intensive butterfly strokes or just leisurely backstrokes, there are plenty of benefits.


Cycling is one of the best cardio exercises for bad knees. Stationary bikes and outdoor cycling on flat terrain don’t place much pressure on the kneecaps. In addition, because cycling tones muscles from head to toe while burning fat, bike riding gets your heart rate up quicker than many other workouts out there.

If you’re not keen on spending hundreds of dollars every year just so you have somewhere to work out indoors—try one last thing: getting yourself an indoor bike to use at home or an outdoor bike and going for a ride.


When it comes to getting in shape, working out is more challenging for people with bad knees. Rowing is one of the best exercises for bad knees because it does not stress your knee joints like other cardio workouts.

You’ll still get an intense whole-body workout by rowing since you utilize all your muscles while increasing heart rate and building stamina. The best part about rowing is that as time progresses, it becomes easier. You will gain muscle memory from mastering the technique over time.

Final Thoughts

Pain in your knees can certainly be challenging to endure, but it may not last forever. Your doctor will notify you if modified exercise is appropriate for treatment or rehabilitation. If you’re looking for relief tailored to your body, which doesn’t require a physical therapist visit, there are other options available such as working with a personal trainer who specializes in injury prevention or who can help you build muscle after knee surgery




The material on this website is intended for educational information purposes only.  It should not substitute or delay medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.