If you suffer from knee pain, chances are you know the frustration that comes with exercising. Knee pain can feel debilitating. Oftentimes, old injuries can still leave you with pain and sensitivity, but this doesn’t need to keep you from getting a good sweat in.
Cardiovascular exercise is widely-known for its benefits. It can help prevent cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and weight gain. It can also make you feel energized and focused. You can even reduce your risk of mortality with just small daily bouts of cardio exercise. (1, 2)
With such important benefits, it is important to know that you can still work around your knee pain and sensitivity and get a great workout in. In fact, doing the right exercises can even help to strengthen the muscles around your knees, making them function better and feel stronger. (3)
Use low impact exercises to get your heart pumping without having to worry about pesky knee pain or injury. These exercises can be done five to six times per week – all you need is a mat.
High Knees | 60 sec
This exercise will get your blood flowing and your abs burning.
- Start standing up with your feet hip-width distance apart. Bend your elbows to 90° angles, making light fists with your hands. Engage your abs.
- Use your abs and hip flexors to lift your right knee up and into your chest as you swing your left arm forward and your right arm back. Your elbows should be bent to 90° angles.
- Then, switch legs. Place your right foot back on the ground and lift your left leg up. At the same time, swing your right arm forward and your left arm back.
- Continue marching in place for 60 seconds.
Side-to-Side Shuffle | 60 sec
This exercise is gentle on the knees but packs a big cardio punch!
- Begin standing up. Bend your elbows and clasp your hands together in front of your chest.
- Take two steps to the right, shuffling your left foot to where your right foot first stepped. End on your right foot with your left foot slightly off the ground.
- Then, shuffle to the left two steps.
- Continue going side-to-side for 60 seconds.
Marching Twists | 60 sec
This exercise will tone your obliques and increase your heart rate.
- Start standing with your feet hip-width distance apart. Bend your elbows and bring your hands to a prayer position in front of your chest.
- Use your abs and hip flexors to lift your right knee up and into your chest. At the same time, twist your torso to the right.
- Lower your right foot down and then lift your left knee into your chest, twisting your torso to the left.
- Continue twisting side-to-side for 60 seconds.
Grapevine | 60 sec
Get your abs working and heart pumping with this twisty cardio exercise.
- Start standing with your feet hip-width distance. Lift your arms up and bend your elbows to 90°. Make light fists with your hands.
- Cross your left foot over your right and twist your torso to the left. Then, step your right foot out to the right.
- Cross your left foot behind your right and twist your torso to the right. Step your right foot out to the right. Then step your left foot in front of your right, and so on and so forth. Continue alternating, stepping your left foot in front of and behind your right for 10 steps.
- Then switch direction, stepping your right foot in front of and behind your left.
- Keep switching back and forth, taking 10 steps in one direction and then 10 steps in the other, for 60 seconds.
Mountain Climbers | 30 sec
This exercise targets the both the abs and the heart rate.
- Start in a high plank position with your shoulders stacked over your wrists. Spread your fingers wide and engage your abs. Press down into the ground with your palms to slightly puff up the space between your shoulder blades.
- Inhale, then exhale to lift your right knee into your chest. Squeeze your abs.
- Step your right foot back in line with your left as you inhale. Then, exhale to lift your left knee up and into your chest.
- Continue alternating feet for 30 seconds.
Tip: If this feels too challenging, place your hands up on a chair or bench to modify.
Bicycles | 30 sec
This ab exercise will tone your obliques and get your blood pumping.
- Begin lying down on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Bend your elbows and interlace your hands behind your head.
- Pick up your feet and bring your shins parallel to the floor. Then lift your head and shoulders off the ground.
- Inhale, then exhale to bring your right knee in closer to your chest as you straighten your left leg out at a 45° angle. At the same time, twist your torso to the right, keeping your elbows wide.
- Inhale to bring everything back to center, then exhale to switch your legs and twist left.
- Continue alternating side-to-side for 30 seconds.
Tip: If you feel any strain in your lower back, point your straightened leg up higher towards the sky.
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