When your knees begin to hurt every time you exercise, it is your body way of telling you that you need to go easy with high-impact exercises.
High-impact exercises like running, jumping and dancing, can put a lot of stress on the knee joint. It is a good fitness practice to mix your exercise routine with low-impact exercises.
A low-impact exercise does not necessarily mean a low-intensity exercise. An exercise can be low-impact and still provide moderate-to-vigorous intensity. Intensity refers to the effect of exercise of the cardio-respiratory system while impact relates to the effect of exercise on the joints. Intensity is a matter of the heart, and it can be achieved with a low-impact exercise.
In this article, I will share the five best low-impact exercises you should add to your exercise routine, especially if you have started feeling pains in your knees.
Walking is the low-impact version of running. Both running and walking are weight bearing exercises, but walking is less stressful of the knees because at every point in the gait cycle you have one foot in contact with the ground.
Elliptical training is an excellent low-impact exercise, and it’s more gentle on the knees that walking. An elliptical machine, also known as a cross trainer, has movable upper body handles that allow you to move both your arms and your legs as you exercise.
A stationary bike is a great exercise machine because your body weight is supported on the bike. This support shifts the weight of your body on the machine instead of your legs. And because your legs are not bearing the weight of your body, you are able to exercise at a higher intensity without causing more damage to the knees.
A recumbent bike allows you to ride in a recumbent position. Your whole body is fully supported on the bike to reduce any form of stress or strain on your knees. This machine is an excellent option for those with knee arthritis.
Swimming is an excellent low-impact exercise because, apart from the fact that it is a non-weight bearing exercise, swimming is also therapeutic and it is very gentle on the joints.
High-impact exercises are great, but remember that Newton’s 3rd law of motion which states that, “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”, also applies to exercise. This law has a bearing on the ground-reaction forces that the body must absorb during physical activities such as running and jumping.
Alternating high-impact workout sessions with low-impact sessions will keep your knees strong and young.