Knee injuries are one of the most common sports-related ailments, and they can require months of physical therapy or even surgery to heal. However, a minor knee injury is no reason to discontinue your cardiovascular fitness workouts. If you have the okay from your doctor to begin or continue exercising, you'll want to steer clear of high-impact workouts like running or traditional aerobics. Instead, opt for one of these great cardio workouts for people with knee injuries.
Swimming is an ideal workout for those plagued by knee injuries, since the water supports your body weight. It can also burn as many calories as running, so dive in and get your daily dose of cardio. If your knee injury is particularly troublesome, adapt your lap-swimming technique by squeezing a buoy between your legs and moving your body through the water with your arms. To gently work your legs, grab a kickboard and rest your upper body as you swim. Go easy on the turns; refrain from pushing off the side walls to avoid exacerbating your knee injury.
If the treadmill's off-limits due to your knee pain, hop on its cousin, the elliptical machine. The elliptical allows you to rest your feet on wide steps and assist your movement by working the handles with your arms. Those who miss running will find that the elliptical machine mimics the movement nicely, allowing you to get your heart pumping without placing stress on the joints of your lower body.
Hit the gym for a spin class, a group exercise class in which the participants ride stationary bicycles together. By adjusting the resistance on your bike, you simulate flat roads and steep hills. A spinning teacher leads you through three body positions: seated, standing, and jumping, in which you rapidly alternate standing and sitting. The best thing about spin class (besides the music) is its adaptability to your fitness level and your body's needs. If the jumps are too much for you at first, just remain seated through those portions of the class. As long as you use enough resistance and speed, you'll still get an effective workout.
The upper body ergometer is an exercise machine that looks like a bike for your hands. Have a seat and alternate turning the pedals forward and backward for half an hour, or join a kranking class. Kranking, which is like spinning with an ergometer, requires no effort at all from your knees. Try this one out if you're recovering from surgery but need the mood boost that exercise can provide.
Grab a mat and head to your gym or local yoga studio for one of these effective, totally low-impact workouts. There are many versions of each; yoga ranges from vinyasa flow, also known as "power yoga," to gentle restorative classes. Pilates may be done on a yoga mat or on a pilates machine, such as the Cadillac or the Reformer. Steer clear of yoga poses that require balancing on your knees to avoid aggravating your injury. Let your teacher know you have knee problems and she'll help you modify the poses.