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How to Slim Down the Thighs When You Have Bad Knees

author image Jessica Taylor
Jessica Taylor has been writing professionally since 2007. She has contributed a number of articles online on topics ranging from fashion to technology to travel. She has a bachelor's degree in English literature from the University of South Florida.
How to Slim Down the Thighs When You Have Bad Knees
A man walking outside. Photo Credit George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Your knees are a complicated system of bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments and cartilage, and problems with any of these components can lead to trouble with your knees. Knee problems affect people of all ages and backgrounds, and are often caused by injuries and diseases such as arthritis and gout. If you have bad knees, you don't have to let them stop you from toning and slimming down your thighs and other parts of your body. As long as you protect your knees, you can exercise and tone without doing further damage.

Reduced-Impact Exercises

Just because you have bad knees doesn't mean you have to avoid all activities that use your knees. Even with knee problems, you can slim and tone your thighs with gentle, low-impact activities such as walking or cycling, both of which work your thigh muscles. Because these activities have reduced impact and no quick changes of direction that could strain your knees, they're gentle enough to attempt. If you have a gym membership, you can also use an elliptical machine to slim down your thighs. Elliptical machines simulate the experience of running and walking with less joint impact, because they use pedals instead of flat surfaces.

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Swimming or light water aerobics are often safe for those with bad knees. Water will offer resistance and gentle strength training without putting too much stress on your bad knees, allowing you to target your thighs with moves like foot paddles and scissor kicks. If you're not a swimmer, try exercising with resistance bands to tone your thighs. Use resistance bands to perform thigh-toning moves such as leg kickbacks or side leg raises, which use your thigh muscles without putting stress on the knees.

What to Avoid

If you have bad knees, avoid knee flexing exercises such as lunges, leg presses and full squats, especially with weights. Activities that involve jumping are also dangerous for those with bad knees, because jumping puts a force equal to double your body weight or greater on your knee joints. Exercises that involve sudden starts and stops or pivots are also tough on the knees. Because of this, people with bad knees should use caution when playing games such as basketball, racquetball and tennis.


You don't have to simply suffer with bad knees. If you're experiencing knee pain and discomfort, see a doctor to determine the cause of your knee pain as well as possible treatments. A doctor can also guide you toward physical activities that are safe for you, or recommend a personal trainer to help you develop a knee-friendly exercise routine to slim down your problem areas. Also, keep in mind that if you want to both lose weight and tone your thighs, you'll likely need to make dietary changes as well. Opt for fat-free or low-fat food items, and include more fruits, vegetables and low-calorie choices in your daily diet.

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