Knee pain and injuries can easily sideline you from your favorite activities—particularly if that activity is running or jogging. Maybe you used to run miles everyday but now suffer from knee pain and need an alternative form of cardio that still gives you that exercise high. Or perhaps you are training for a marathon and recently experienced a knee injury so you need an alternative form of cardio. And then there’s those of you who fall into the “I hate running and I have bad knees” camp who are looking for ways to get your heart pumping that don’t involve running. Whatever your situation, running or jogging for bad knees is usually not recommended. While you should always check with your doctor and listen to your body, running is typically too high-impact for bad knees and can cause further stress on your joints.
In order to stay active while protecting your knees from future injury, you want to incorporate other non-running cardio workouts into your exercise regimen. Here are five non-running cardio workouts you can try to still break a sweat while keeping your knees healthy.
If you can’t run, walk! Walking is one of the low-impact workouts out there, providing many of the cardiovascular health benefits of running without being so hard on your knees. In addition to helping you burn calories and benefiting your heart, walking has so many amazing benefits, including reducing your risk of high cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes. Try for at least a 30-minute, moderate-paced walk three times a week. You can also incorporate light weights as you walk to continue to elevate your heart rate and build strength.
When you’re looking for a non-running cardio workout that’s easy on your joints, head to the water! Swimming works major muscle groups like your abdominals and glutes while burning a ton of calories. A 155-pound person swimming freestyle for one hour will burn approximately 700 calories swimming at a fast pace and close to 500 calories at a slower pace—all while the water’s buoyancy takes the strain off your knees.
Elliptical machines are great for people who want a cardio workout that’s easy on their knees. The fact that your feet never leave the pedals means a fluid range of motion that’s vastly different from the hard striking of your foot on the pavement when you’re jogging or running. Use intervals on the elliptical to take your calorie burn up a notch—exert maximum effort for a few minutes, then return to a more moderate intensity. Try some of our elliptical workouts for great interval training on the elliptical.
If you don’t believe yoga can give you a good workout, you haven’t tried the right class! Try a vinyasa-style workout to still reap the benefits of cardiovascular exercise while also uniting your movement with your breath. Sun salutations, chair series and warrior poses can all build strength in the body and once you start to flow, you’re heart will definitely be pumping. Plus, a limber, flexible body is more likely to avoid future injury than anything else. There are also Yoga Sculpt classes where free weights are utilized to give you an even more intense cardiovascular workout.
5) Cardio Kickboxing
You can’t deny that cardio kickboxing is fun—it gets your heart rate up, is often set to upbeat music and usually does wonders at blasting away any residual stress leftover from the day. It’s also fairly low-impact, without a ton of lunges or work on your knees. You’ll incorporate kickboxing moves like punches and jabs and utilize continuous movement to keep your heart rate up. Our Cardio Kickboxing class on Get Healthy U TV is one of our most popular ever—people of all fitness levels (bad knees or good!) love it for a low-impact cardio workout that doesn’t place undue stress on the joints.
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