Working out with bad knees is simply an obstacle to overcome, not an excuse to avoid exercise. Exercise has many physical and mental benefits and having bad knees should not prevent you from enjoying those benefits. When you modify your exercises and use caution during your workouts, you and your knees will benefit from a weekly exercise routine.
Cardiovascular exercise improves your heart and lungs, aids in weight loss, reduces stress, improves blood pressure and lowers cholesterol. Do not let bad knees get in between you and cardiovascular exercise. Instead of performing high-impact exercises such as running and stair climbing, select low-impact workouts that include water aerobics, biking, walking, swimming or use an elliptical trainer. Aim to complete 30 to 45 minutes of your aerobic exercise most days of the week.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, AAOS, recommends strength training to stabilize and support your knees. Include exercises for the front of your legs such as wall squats in which you stand with your back against the wall, then bend your knees to lower your hips until your thighs are near parallel with the floor. Maintain your wall squat for five to 10 seconds and then release. Include exercises for the back of your legs such as a leg curl. Stand facing a chair and then bend your knee to lift your foot behind your body and hold it still for three to five seconds. Lift and lower each foot eight to 10 times. Perform strength training every other day.
The AAOS recommends stretching the front and back or your leg to increase the flexibility in your knee. Perform stretching exercises at the end of your workout when your muscles are warm. Stretch the front of your leg in a standing position by bending your knee and raising your foot up toward your backside. Grasp the ankle with your hand to enhance the stretch. Stretch the back of your legs in a seated position with your legs extended on the floor. Fold forward over your straight legs to stretch your hamstrings. Maintain each stretch for 20 to 30 seconds. Perform your flexibility exercises daily.
Some exercises such as lunges are beneficial to your glutes, but not to your knees. The American Council on Exercise recommends a quadruped hip extension instead. Begin on the floor on your hands and knees. Keep your right knee bent to a 90 degree angle as you lift your right foot toward the ceiling until your thigh is parallel with the floor. Aim to complete eight to 12 repetitions on each leg. Other leg exercises may need to be modified by limiting the distance you bend your knee. Always listen to your body and when you feel knee pain, stop the exercise.