Best Cardio Exercises to Do If You Have Bad Knees

by Peh Yi Wen
FITNESS  |  March 26, 2019
  • Even if your knees hurt when you run or jump, it doesn’t mean cardio is out of your workout equation.
    1 / 6 Even if your knees hurt when you run or jump, it doesn’t mean cardio is out of your workout equation.

    Anyone suffering from a knee injury or experiences pain in their joints would shudder at the thought of running or doing HIIT workouts packed with deep squats and plyometric movements. The good news: there are other ways to get your regular dose of cardio, increase your heart rate and burn fat along the way.

    (Also read: 7 Gentle Exercises to Relieve Joint Pain)

    All photos:

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  • Rebounding
    2 / 6 Rebounding

    This trendy workout is guaranteed to get your heart rate up quickly. Contrary to the trampoline jumping you did as a child, rebounding focuses on pushing your heels down hard while your hands are placed on a stabiliser bar.

    Though tons of jumping variations (from high knees to criss-cross jumps) are involved, everything is done on a mini trampoline known as a rebounder, which feels firmer, gives you a smaller bounce and absorbs the impact from the high-intensity exercise.

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  • Cycling
    3 / 6 Cycling

    Cycling is a non-weight bearing exercise that is low-impact and lets you work up a sweat without causing any stress on your joints. You can take the traditional route – outdoors with the wind in your hair – or indoors, where you pedal to the treble in dimly lit studios.

    Another fun alternative? Aqua cycling. The challenge comes with pedalling against the resistance of the water, but it remains low-impact as the water’s buoyancy provides support for your working muscles and joints.

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  • Rowing
    4 / 6 Rowing

    The underrated rowing machine lets you build endurance, as well as strength in your arms, back and legs without causing any tension on your knees. Once you’ve strapped your feet on securely, check for correct form.

    (Also read: Best Exercises to Strengthen Wrists and Prevent Injury)

    Maintain a straight back with your arms extended in front of you, keep your knees slightly bent at all times – even after sliding backwards. Instead of relying solely on your arms, engage the muscles in your quads, hamstrings and core as you pull yourself forward for a full-body workout.

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  • Swimming
    5 / 6 Swimming

    Thanks to the buoyancy provided by the body of water, your joints will feel zero pressure no matter what style of swimming you do. Water adds 12 times more resistance to your workout compared to exercises done in air. So on top of being a great aerobic workout, you’ll be building strength and getting toned all over.


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  • Elliptical
    6 / 6 Elliptical

    Instead of the treadmill, hop onto the elliptical machine for a cardio workout. It’s designed to minimise the impact on your knees and hips. So, even though you use mainly your legs to propel yourself forward, there is no pressure on your joints during the movement. Where possible, dial up the resistance for a challenge.

    (Also read: Running on Softer Surfaces Does Not Mean Less Impact on Your Joints)

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