The Best Exercise Machines for Bad Knees

Exercising is not always easy if you have bad knees. Running and other high-impact exercises can be counterproductive if you have ever had a knee injury or are coming off knee surgery. High-impact exercises can pound on your joints; this is something you should avoid at all costs. The best exercise equipment for bad knees is low-impact machines that can help you achieve your fitness goals, without aggravating old injuries.

Rowing machines are a great for people with bad knees. (Image: Pekic/E+/GettyImages)

1. Elliptical Machine

The elliptical machine is for anyone looking to get a full-body, low-impact workout. Elliptical machines are ideal for older adults and for those who tend to develop shin splits during exercise. The elliptical is much more forgiving on the joints, including the knees, compared to a treadmill and is the best option for people who want to do an upright exercise.

The motions are a cross between biking and walking or running, using mainly your legs to propel movement. This knee exercise machine also provides a workout for your arms, which are the secondary force in the movement, by aiding the powerhouse of the exercise — your legs.

2. Rowing Machine

The rowing machine offers both cardiovascular and strength-building benefits. To use a rowing machine, the user straps in his feet and sits on a seat that moves forward and backward on a rail. Next, the user grabs onto a bar located near his feet and pulls the bar toward his stomach while pushing with his feet and extending his back. The rowing machine builds your arms, legs and back without added tension on your knees.

Most rowing machines have a resistance setting that can increase the friction of the chain attached to the bar and force you to use more upper-body strength. The old-tech rowing machines must be set before you begin to exercise, but most of the newer-tech rowing machines can change the resistance at the touch of a button.

3. Stationary Bike

Stationary biking is an exceptional knee exercise machine choice for anyone with past knee injuries or recovering from knee surgery. Most gyms offer a recumbent bike or an upright bike. The recumbent bike is a better choice for beginners. because it is in a reclining position.

The upright bike is set up like a mountain bike and forces you to sit up, using your core muscles as you bike. Like rowing machines, stationary bikes have a resistance setting that allows you to increase the friction on the pedals.

4. Resistance Training Machine

The resistance training knee exercise machine allows you to work on your lower body and leg muscles without harming your knees. Adjust the weights before performing exercises such as leg curls or leg extensions.

Leg curls work the hamstring muscles on the back of your legs and can be performed lying on your stomach or seated with your back supported by the machine. Leg extensions work the quadriceps on the front of your legs. Begin with light weights and work your way up to heavier weights slowly so you don't strain your knees.

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