Try these low-impact exercises
Do you avoid exercise because your knees ache from arthritis, excess weight or just getting older? You may be able to exercise without pain if you avoid high-impact movement. Check with your doctor. Light exercise may even help reduce your pain while improving your fitness level.
Below are some low-impact ways you can move more. Start slowly to make sure you're not overexerting yourself. If you have arthritis, aim to get 30 minutes of physical activity every other day. It's OK, though, if you can only manage 10 minutes to start. Be sure to check with your doctor before you begin a new workout routine.
At the gym
Many fitness centers offer options for those who want to avoid weight-bearing exercise. School gyms, religious centers, hospitals or your place of employment may offer similar equipment for a lower membership fee -- or sometimes for free.
Do water aerobics
Many gyms have indoor pools. If you like being in the water, but don't have the stamina for swimming laps, take a water aerobics or water fitness class instead. Work at your own pace. If you prefer to work out on your own, try walking across the shallow end of the pool or doing leg lifts in deeper water while holding on to the side. You can even "bicycle" your legs in the water to work your hip and thigh muscles.
Take a yoga or tai chi class
Both types of exercise can be easy on the knees and other joints. Tai chi helps with flexibility and range of motion. Basic yoga involves poses that stretch your body without straining it. If you prefer, buy a DVD to practice the moves at home.
Try the elliptical machine or recumbent bike
First make sure it is OK with your doctor. Both of these pieces of equipment give you a good cardio workout without putting as much strain on your knees.
Use upper-body ergometers or rowing machines
Ergometers are like stationary bikes, but you use your arms instead of your legs to move the pedals. Rowing machines also work your upper body. Although you do push off and bend your legs with each repetition, your arms pull your weight.
These gentle stretches and seated exercises can be done in the comfort of your living room. They can help strengthen the muscles that support your knees and may even give you some relief if your joints are stiff or sore.
Seated leg extensions
Floor leg lifts
Seated hamstring stretch
If your knees start to hurt after any activity, stop and check with your doctor before trying it again. For more help with exercises suitable for bad knees and other joint problems, your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist.