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Exercise Tips for People With Bad Knees

written by: Diane Lynn • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 6/29/2011

If your knees are delicate, or you occasionally have knee pain after exercising, follow these simple tips on how to exercise when you have bad knees. Fortunately bad knees do not preclude you from exercising, but you may need to try some new, low-stress exercises.

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    Ride a Bike

    Bad knees do not have to stop you from working out and staying healthy. Riding either a stationary or road bicycle places very little stress on your knees. When you ride either type of upright bike, adjust the seat so your leg is almost fully extended without your knee locking when the pedal is in the lowest position. Push the pedal forward with your thigh muscles and lower calf muscles, allowing your knee to follow the natural pedaling progression. Try out the strange-looking recumbent bicycle you may see at your local gym. The recumbent bicycle is great for your knees, as not only is there no pressure on your knees, you ride sitting upright with your back fully supported.

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    Get in the Pool

    Swimming is more than cool and refreshing. If you have bad knees, swimming may be the perfect exercise for you. Providing you a full-body workout that burns about 241 number of calories per 30 minutes, swimming can help you tone your muscles and lose weight, says Health Status. If you are just beginning to swim laps, start out using a kickboard to support your upper body and doing the flutter kick. Keep your knees relaxed as you kick. Even non-swimmers can enjoy water workouts -- water aerobics classes are offered in many gyms and community centers.

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    Elliptical Trainer

    Try the calorie burning elliptical trainer to understanding how to exercise when you have bad knees. An elliptical trainer is a piece of mechanical exercise equipment that uses a motion that makes you feel like you are walking but places little pressure on your joints. Instead of lifting your feet as on a treadmill, your feet stay planted on the large foot pedals. As you move your feet in a forward motion, the pedals move in an elliptical, or oval pattern. Take advantage of the upper body workout on many elliptical trainers by pushing and pulling the handles while your workout.

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    Do Strength Training

    Strength training exercises tone the muscles under your skin and help increase the percentage of lean muscle mass you have in your body. Not just limited to dumbbells or metal weights, strength training can be done with resistance bands and your own bodyweight. When you have bad knees, focus on exercises that tone your upper body and put no pressure on your knees. Do triceps extensions, chest presses and shoulder lifts. Use a stability ball for support and do abdominal crunches, keeping your knees in alignment with your feet as you crunch up and down while sitting on the ball.

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    Avoid Certain Sports

    High-impact sports like running, step aerobics and skiing place great pressure on your knees. Unless your doctor has recommended such sports, avoid these sports. Every time you run, your knees absorb the shock as you land on the pavement. Step aerobics and skiing are also hard on your knees. In addition to avoiding high-impact sports, avoid doing full lunges or squats when weight training. Both these lower body workouts add pressure to your knees. Use other weight training lower body exercises such as hip adductions and leg raises when learning new techniques on how to exercise when you have bad knees.