Best Cardio Exercise for Bad Knees at Home

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

If you have bad knees and were told by your doctor to avoid high-impact cardiovascular exercises, such as running or jogging, you don’t have to stop exercising. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends low-impact cardio activities such as swimming, cycling, rowing , treadmill and elliptical training as the best cardio exercise for bad knees at home.

However, if you want to use the treadmill, consider an elliptical machine instead. Whichever cardio exercise you choose, your goal should be to work out for at least 30 minutes three to five days a week and follow it up with strength training and stretching exercises at least twice a week.

If you choose the treadmill, we recommend NordicTrack T series . It is a cross-trainer and has good reviews. Some people say that running can cause knee problems like a runner’s knee. However, there is evidence that the opposite may be the case – lack of exercise (not just high-impact exercise) can cause knee problems.

Best Cardio Exercise for Bad Knees at Home.

1. Swimming:

Swimming is ideal for people with bad knees because it’s low impact and the water provides natural support to your joints. It also helps strengthen muscles around your knees, hips and ankles. If you don’t know how to swim, you can still reap the benefits of the water by simply walking back and forth in waist deep water.

2. Walking:

If your doctor allows walking is a great low-impact cardio exercise for bad knees.

3. Treadmill exercise:

A treadmill gives your legs a workout without making them so fatigued that you have to stop prematurely or take a break. It also helps strengthen the muscles around your knees and hips.

The advantages of elliptical machines include:

  • It’s easy on your joints.
  • It strengthens the muscles around your knee and hip joints to help stabilize them and improve strength and endurance.
  • You can walk or run because it gives you a choice of stride length, similar to running outdoors.
  • You expend more calories.
  • It’s kinder to your shins and ankles than running on a hard surface, which can lead to shin splints and spurs.
  • It’s an all-body workout—you work your lower body and your upper body with the arm movements you put into it; this is great for those who aren’t strength training.
  • You can vary the workout by adjusting the incline and resistance levels of the machine to make it more challenging as you get fitter or easier if you’re starting out.

The disadvantages of elliptical machines include:

  • It’s easy on your joints but doesn’t exercise all muscles around your knee and hip joints as well as other forms of cardio exercise.
  • It takes up enough space.
  • The stride can be bigger than running, so you have to shorten your strides as you increase the intensity of the workout to prevent overstretching your muscles, which can damage them.
  • You can’t vary the intensity as much as running – for example, you can’t sprint – which means you won’t build up your cardiovascular fitness as quickly.
  • It works only the main muscle groups rather than a range of muscles to create a full-body workout.

4. Bicycling:

If you have bad knees but can’t give up bicycling, consider an upright stationary bike at least for now. Upright bikes put less stress on your joints than recumbent bikes do, but they still get the job done.

5. Rowing machines:

Rowing machines are an upright cardio exercise that targets your quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes without putting too much pressure on your knees. This machine is especially recommended for people with bad hips or knees.

6. Swimming pool exercises:

These exercises can help strengthen the muscles around your knee joints so you’ll be more stable when you’re walking, bicycling, or running. They’re also excellent for building endurance and improving your cardiovascular fitness level.

7. Knee extensions/knee curls:

These knee strengthening exercises should be done only if your doctor says they won’t hurt your knee joints:

8. Wall sits:

Stand with your back to the wall and slide down, so your knees are bent at right angles. Hold this position for as long as you can, working up to 1 minute.

9. Straight leg raises:

Lie on the floor with your arms outstretched and palms down. Tighten your abdominal muscles and raise one leg without bending your knee or rotating your hips. Raise it until it’s fully extended.

10. Wall push-ups:

Stand with your back to the wall and slide down so your knees are bent at right angles, similar to when you were in a wall sit. Now place your palms on the wall about shoulder-width apart with your arms straight, lean forward, and bend your elbows until they’re close to 90 degrees. Hold this position for as long as you can.


“So we’ve looked at the best cardio exercises for bad knees, and it seems that if you’re suffering from this condition, the treadmill or elliptical machine is probably your best option. It helps strengthen certain muscles around your knee and hip joints (those that help with stability and endurance) without being too taxing on them.” The elliptical or treadmill is the best cardio exercise if you have a bad knee or weak knees. It targets muscles that are helpful to stability and endurance without affecting them too much.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll to Top