About 20% of American adults suffer from knee pain, which makes sense considering two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. Those extra pounds increase the stress on your knees, which can cause chronic pain and lead to other knee-related complications, such as arthritis or osteoarthritis. Fortunately, exercise can help you lose weight and fat, gain muscle, and keep your knees healthy!
Right now you’re probably thinking, “Exercise? Really? Won’t exercise only make my knees hurt even worse?”
Actually, regular exercise can lessen and alleviate overweight and obesity-related knee pain, stiffness, and swelling. The key to treatment and prevention of knee pain is strengthening the muscles around your knee. Having strong muscles helps absorb the shock, relieving your knee joint of extra stress and pain.
7 Easy Exercises for Overweight People with Knee Pain
Rather you’re a beginner or seasoned pro, exercise can seem like a daunting task at times, especially if you have a bad knee. Fortunately, exercise doesn’t have to be hard or dreadful to be beneficial! Actually, low-impact and gentle workouts are best for your knees. These 7 exercises help minimize stress on your knee joints while increasing your flexibility and strength.
1. Up and Downs (Grab a Chair)
- Sit in a firm, armless chair with your feet flat on the floor and your arms crossed or loose at your sides, whichever feels more balanced.
- Slowly stand up, using controlled movements, until you reach your full height.
- Hold for a few seconds, and then slowly sit down again. Repeat for about a minute.
2. Hamstring Stretch
- Sitting at the edge of your chair, straighten one leg out in front of your body with your heel on the floor and your toes pointed towards the ceiling.
- Then, sit up straight and try pushing your navel towards your thigh without leaning the trunk of your body forwards.
- Repeat 3 times for each leg.
3. Calf Raises
- Stand facing the back of your chair.
- Slowly raise your heels as high as you can, then lower.
- Do 3 sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.
4. Calf Stretch
- Face the back of your chair with one leg straight behind you and the other in front of you, slightly bent.
- Place your hands over the top of your chair with a light grip.
- Keep your back leg straight with both heels planted on the floor and lean your torso towards the top of your chair. You should feel this in the calf of your back leg.
- Hold for a few seconds and then switch legs. Repeat for about a minute.
5. Straight Leg Raises
- Lie down with 1 leg bent at a 90-degree angle and your foot flat on the floor. Extend your other leg fully.
- Tighten your quadriceps (thigh muscles) within your straightened leg and raise it to a 45-degree angle.
- Hold your leg in this elevated position for about 1 or 2 seconds before slowly lowering it back to the ground.
- Do 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions.
6. Hamstring Curls
- Lie flat on your stomach.
- Slowly bring your heels as close to your butt as you can and hold that position.
- Do 3 sets of 15 repetitions.
Tip: You can also do this exercise standing while you hold onto the back of your chair and lift one leg at a time.
7. Knee Rolls
- Lie on your back, bending your knees so your feet are flat on the floor.
- Keep your arms at your side and your eyes on the ceiling.
- Simultaneously, look towards the left and slowly lower both knees to the right (trying to keep your knees together) until you feel a gentle stretch in your thighs and lower back.
- Hold this stretch for 5 seconds and then slowly lift your knees back to center. Repeat 10 times on each side, with short rests in between.
NOTE: Mild discomfort during exercise is perfectly normal and healthy. However, if you experience severe pain stop exercising immediately and make an appoint with your doctor.
Top 3 Low Impact Cardio Exercises for Bad Knees
SwimmingSwimming is one of the best cardio exercises for your knees. It helps strengthen weak bones and muscles and improves your flexibility. Plus, it’s fun, so dive on into your local swimming pool! Unlike weight-bearing activities that place stress on your knees as your feet hit the hard surface, your body is buoyant in water, lessening the impact and pressure on your knee joints. Plus, most people can exercise longer in water without strenuous effort or joint pain!
If you’re not a fan of swimming, you might want to consider trying an elliptical trainer. You will burn roughly the same amount of calories using an elliptical trainer as you would on a treadmill. Plus, your feet never leave the pedals, so there is less chance of injuring your knees. Think of this exercise as running but without the impact!
Simply going for a good old-fashioned walk is a great form of low-impact cardio and has multiple health benefits, which can help alleviate knee pain.
3 Exercises to Avoid If You Have Knee Pain
Rather you are at a healthy weight, overweight, or obese, avoid the following exercises if you have sore knees:
- Deep Squats
We understand that knee pain can make it difficult to exercise. With that said, if you are overweight and want to start exercising but could use some extra support, this knee brace is a comfortable way to reduce knee pain, discomfort, and stress.
See more knee support options.