Cardio workouts offer plenty of benefits. They make your lungs and heart stronger while also increasing your overall physical endurance over time. Unfortunately, some forms of cardio aren’t so gentle on your joints, mainly your knees. High-impact forms of cardio, in particular, are known to cause knee pain and other injuries when done incorrectly. So, it’s normal to wonder, ‘Which cardio exercises are easier on the knees?’.
Cardio exercises that are considered low-impact are easier on the knees than high-impact ones. They include exercises like walking, cycling, and training using an elliptical machine. If you like being in the water, swimming and water aerobics are also good alternatives. Lastly, boxing and other martial arts are also fantastic for low-impact cardio training.
We’ll begin this article by explaining the differences between low-impact and high-impact exercises, particularly in how they affect your knees. Then, we’ll walk you through the five best options you have for cardio exercises that are gentle on the knees.
Let’s get started.
Firstly, it’s essential to understand the differences between low-impact and high-impact cardio exercises and how they affect your knees.
Truth be told, it’s all in the name. Low-impact cardio exercises are the ones that don’t involve causing much impact on your joints, whether it’s your knees or any other. These exercises can be done at any intensity, but their movements don’t involve hitting the ground very hard. Walking and cycling are perfect examples of this.
High-impact exercises are quite the opposite. They produce substantial impacts on your joints, which can be pretty problematic. This type of cardio exercise is usually done at a more intense pace, which does a better job of burning calories and training your physical endurance.
Unfortunately, high-impact exercises can cause knee pain and injury in the long run.
That’s why it’s always a good idea to consider doing low-impact cardio exercises to protect your knees, especially if you’re just beginning your journey towards fitness.
Some of the more common cardio exercises that you can rely on to be gentle on your knees include walking, cycling, elliptical exercises, swimming and water aerobics, as well as boxing and other martial arts.
Walking is probably the most popular form of low-impact cardio exercise. Even if you don’t realise the benefits you’re getting from it, you’re already doing plenty of walking as it is.
Still, if you want to do more of it, you can walk almost anywhere. Do it at your local park or just around the neighbourhood while running errands. Alternatively, you could also do more walking on a treadmill in the comfort of your own home or at the gym.
Think that walking isn’t intense enough? Well, that’s not true at all! You can increase the intensity of this exercise by engaging in power walking instead. That’s when you walk faster than usual with a larger gait. Unlike running or jogging, you’ll be keeping one foot on the ground at all times.
Another popular form of cardio is cycling, both indoor with a stationary bike or out on the road with a regular bicycle. Cycling is fantastic for your knees because there isn’t any impact at all! You see, your legs will be busy pedalling the entire time to keep the bicycle moving. Your feet will not come into contact with the ground until you come to a stop.
Using cycling machines is also popular with people because they come in many forms. You can go to a spinning class at the gym or use a reclining gym bike to do the same.
Elliptical exercises are only possible with an elliptical machine, but there’s a very good reason why they’re so popular with people wanting to protect their knees.
By using the elliptical machine, your lower body is mimicking the same movements as when you’re running. The significant difference here is that there’s no impact involved, so your knees are kept safe.
Better yet, you can ‘run’ on an elliptical machine at your own pace. You can do it at low or high intensities or switch between them at any time. Most elliptical machines also allow you to control the resistance of your movements to give your leg muscles a better workout.
Suppose you’re looking for something even lower-impact than any of the exercises above. Or, perhaps you just love being in the water. If that’s the case, then you’ll be glad to know that swimming and water aerobics are also excellent options for cardio that’s easy on the knees.
Any type of cardio in the water is also gentle on all your other joints as well. But don’t make the mistake of assuming the workout will be less challenging!
It takes quite a bit of energy to move your body when it’s underwater. That’s why swimming and doing water aerobics are both excellent for strengthening your muscles, increasing your endurance, and burning more calories!
Last but not least, you also have the action-packed option of doing cardio in the form of boxing or other martial arts. Check your local gym, and you’ll see plenty of boxing- or kickboxing-based cardio classes that are less about self-defence and more about moving your body!
Self-defence movements are excellent forms of cardio because they keep your body moving at a sustained pace that challenges your heart and lungs. However, they don’t involve impact on your knees, so you won’t have to worry about any joint pains after the class is over!
exercises besides running that you can enjoy without worrying about your knees. The ones mentioned above are just a few examples, though there are plenty more out there.
The most important thing is to try as many as you can and stick with the ones you enjoy the most. Or, mix them up to add more variety to your cardio training so you’ll never get bored!