While cardio workouts are among the best ways to burn calories, build fitness and shed extra pounds, some cardio or aerobics workouts can be hard on the joints, particularly the knees and feet. Here are 7 options for high-powered cardio workouts that don't stress the knee joint or put excess stress on your feet.
1. Step Aerobics
Adding a step element to your aerobics workout can greatly increase the intensity and effectiveness of your workout. For beginners, a four-inch step will provide plenty of a challenge, but expert step aerobicizers can use a step up to twelve inches high. During the step portion of your workout, be sure to bend your knee no farther than a ninety degree angle, and maintain a moderate pace.
Elliptical trainers allow the body to experience all the aerobic and cardio benefits of running, with none of the jarring impact to the joints. By increasing the intensity or length of the workout, you can challenge the body even farther, and see rapid, dramatic results. While elliptical trainers can be expensive to purchase for at home use, they are available at many fitness centers.
Because the water supports your body, swimming and water aerobics are excellent choices for those with joint issues. Your body works against the resistance of the water, adding additional intensity to the workout. Many fitness or recreation centers offer water aerobics classes, or just spend an hour at the lap pool to improve your breast stroke.
4. Low-Impact Circuit Training
Circuit training is a very effective approach to any workout, and is easily adaptable to provide a low-impact cardio workout. Using knee lifts, lunges, arm movements and other exercises to make up the circuit will give you great results, without jarring your joints. If you have access to a personal trainer at your fitness club or elsewhere, have him put together a program for you to help you get started.
5. Inline Skating
Another challenging workout approach, inline skating takes some practice, but can also be an intense workout with little demand on the knees. Many areas have paved trails for skaters, so scope out your area and see what facilities are available. Before you embark, though, be sure you have elbow pads, knee pads and the all-important helmet in case of spills.
6. Stationary Bike
A great at-home workout, the stationary bike is also easy on the joints. Park your bike in front of the TV and watch a movie, and be sure to vary your speed and the resistance of the pedals for even better, faster results.
While walking is more likely to jostle the joints than the above options, it's still a viable option for many, even those with knee issues. Get into a good pair of walking shoes and take off for a stroll around the neighborhood. Bring the dog along if you have one, or do a few circuits around the block with the kids. If you have any specific problems that might make walking problematic, be sure to consult with a doctor.