Many popular sports and workouts can result in knee injuries, but bad knees shouldn't stop you from staying in shape. There are many different exercises to lose weight with bad knees. Balancing calorie restriction and exercise can help you lose weight and improve your overall health.
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Losing Weight With Bad Knees
People who are trying to lose weight have two options: a calorie deficit and exercise. For people with bad knees, a calorie deficit might seem like the easier of these two options. However, there's a limit to the number of calories you can cut out of your diet.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, women need to ingest at least 1,200 calories per day, while men need at least 1,500 calories. Cut out more calories than these amounts and you might not obtain the essential nutrients you need to stay healthy.
Keep in mind that your caloric needs might be higher than these values, especially if you're an active person. You can use the American Council on Exercise's Physical Activity Calorie Counter to determine what a healthy caloric intake is for you.
It's generally more sustainable to incorporate larger amounts of physical activity into your daily routine. Increasing your activity levels and slightly reducing your caloric intake can result in weight loss and improve your overall fitness. Certain exercises can even help make your knees stronger.
The Mayo Clinic says that 1 pound (0.45 kilogram) of fat is equal to about 3,500 calories. If you're keen on losing about 1 pound each week, you'd need to burn 3,500 calories in order to do so. This means you'd have to burn about 500 calories every day.
Finding good exercises to lose weight with bad knees may seem like a challenge, but you may have more options available to you than you think. Harvard Health Publishing says that gym exercises, certain sports and even certain household chores, like gardening or mowing the lawn, can all help you burn calories and lose weight.
Gentle Exercises for Bad Knees
The amount of calories you burn when doing exercise depends on how much you weigh and the amount of effort your activity of choice involves. Activities obviously vary, but suppose that you weigh 185 pounds.
If you have bad knees, you've likely considered gentle forms of exercise, like yoga. According to Harvard Health Publishing, half an hour of Hatha yoga or stretching can help you burn 178 calories.
You can also perform tai chi exercises to lose weight with bad knees. Like Hatha yoga, 30 minutes of tai chi burns about 178 calories.
Tai chi is particularly good for people with bad knees. According to a May 2016 study in the Annals of Internal Medicine, tai chi can help reduce knee pain and improve mobility in people with knee osteoarthritis.
The Mayo Clinic recommends exercises like these as they are a type of balance and stability training. They help prevent tight muscles, which can contribute to further injuries, and help strengthen the muscles surrounding your knees.
The downside to these gentle forms of exercise is that they don't burn calories very quickly. If you look at the American Council on Exercise's Physical Activity Calorie Counter, you'll see that you'd need to do 2.5 hours of Hatha yoga in order to burn 500 calories.
Water Sports and Bad Knees
Water-based sports are great exercises to lose weight with bad knees, especially if you're pressed for time. Harvard Health Publishing states that 30 minutes of lap swimming would allow a 185-pound person to burn 355 to 488 calories. Swimming is a great form of aerobic exercise and is a particularly good choice for people who are recovering from a knee injury.
The Cleveland Clinic recommends swimming, as it's a resistance exercise that helps you build muscle. However, if you have bad knees, you may want to avoid excessive amounts of certain strokes, like the breaststroke. The repetitive leg motion that occurs in breaststroke can stress your knee's inner ligament — the medial collateral ligament — furthering aggravating them.
Other water sports can also help you burn calories. Snorkeling for 30 minutes can help a 185-pound person burn 222 calories, while scuba or skin diving will burn 311 calories. If you prefer team sports, half an hour of water polo will allow you to burn 444 calories.
If you enjoy being outdoors, kayaking and rafting both burn 222 calories every 30-minutes. Alternatively, you can also use an indoor rowing machine to perform a similar type of exercise. Using a rowing machine for half an hour would help an 185-pound person burn 311-377 calories.
Don't Forget Knee-Strengthening Exercises
Weight loss may be at the forefront of your mind, motivating you to exercise. However, it's important to consider the best exercises for your knees, too. Although it might be tempting to avoid weight-bearing exercises, doing so completely can make your knees worse.
Try to incorporate knee-strengthening exercises like hamstring and quadriceps stretches into your exercise routine. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons also recommends exercises like straight leg lifts, hamstring curls and wall squats. These exercises can be a particularly good way to warm up before your main workout.
Of course, your form is key when doing these exercises. If you're not sure if you're doing these exercises correctly, it might be best to consult your local gym's personal trainer. They can help you make sure that you're doing knee strengthening exercises correctly and can even help recommend other exercises that are good for people with knee injuries.
However, if your bad knees are caused by repetitive injuries, you may want to consult a physical therapist or doctor. Certain knee injuries may require rehab, which can help reduce pain and improve strength and mobility.
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: "Knee Exercises"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Why Swimming Is Great Exercise for All Fitness Levels"
- American Council on Exercise: "Physical Activity Calorie Counter"
- Mayo Clinic: "Knee Pain"
- Annals of Internal Medicine: "Tai Chi Versus Physical Therapy for Knee Osteoarthritis"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights"
- Mayo Clinic: "Counting Calories: Get Back to Weight-Loss Basics"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Calorie Counting Made Easy"