If you frequently experience knee pain, you'll need to be careful in choosing cardiovascular exercises that don't worsen the pain or further injure your knees. The good news is that you're not out of options. Doing low impact exercises is going to be the best way for you to workout. High impact exercises should be avoided--you'll want to stay away from the following fitness machines and types of cardiovascular activities:
1. Stair Stepper
When you frequently experience knee pain, you probably noticed that going up and down the stairs in your everyday life can be painful. Stay away from cardio equipment like the Stair Stepper. It'll only make things worse. There are better pieces of equipment for you to use.
Running is hard on your body, especially your knees. The impact a hard surface has on your joints when you run can intensify any knee pains you have. Avoid running outside or on the treadmill. You're better off walking instead. Even if you have access to a soft running surface, like an indoor track covered in artificial turf, you're better off avoiding running altogether.
3. Kickboxing Classes
More than other kinds of cardiovascular group exercise classes, kickboxing incorporates a lot of high impact moves like jumping jacks, jump squats and hitch kicks. All of these moves are very hard on your knees. Spending thirty minutes to an hour in one of these classes could end up feeling like torture. Steer clear of it.
4. Strength/Cardio Interval Training with High Impact Movements
You don't need to avoid interval training altogether--you just need to be careful how you modify the cardio exercises. Most interval group exercise classes incorporate a mix of cardiovascular activity with strength training. The cardio moves tend to be higher in impact to get your heart rate up quickly (think jump squats, high knee jogging and jump rope). You can certainly take part in these classes, but lower the impact of the cardio moves. Don't do anything that puts too much pressure on your knees. In general, you'll want to avoid jumping. You can always march quickly in place or do a side step to keep your heart rate going instead of doing an otherwise high impact move.
So what kind of exercises can you do? The easiest solution is to walk. Walking can be done anywhere, it's free, and it is low in impact. You can also use your gym's elliptical trainer. In general, elliptical trainers are much easier on your joints. If you're interested in taking group exercise classes, try something like Zumba. Though low impact, it'll make you work up a sweat and get a great workout. Pilates is another great class to take. Since most of the moves are done laying on your back or side, you put very little pressure on your knees. Having knee pain doesn't mean you can't work out--you just have to be careful which cardio exercises you choose to do.