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Water exercises are easy on your joints.
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To maintain your health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines recommend a regular fitness program to include 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio and two strength-training workouts each week. This can be hard to do if you have bad knees, but strengthening the muscles around your knees can help to minimize the strain and stress on your knee joints. With alternate exercises and small technique adjustments, it is possible to maintain a fitness regimen with joint-friendly exercises.
Before engaging in any type of exercise, it's important to perform a short warm-up to get your blood circulating and to prepare your muscles for your workout. Common warm-up activities -- such as jogging or jumping rope -- can be hard on your knees. An alternative, knee-friendly, warm-up exercise to help prepare for a lower-body workout is the glute bridge. To start, lie on your back, bend your legs 90 degrees and put your feet flat on the floor. Slowly lift your hips until your body is straight from your shoulders to your knees. Hold the position for a count of four, lower and repeat. Perform two sets of eight reps.
Exercising in a pool puts minimal to no stress on your joints, bones and muscles. The American Council on Exercise claims that the buoyancy of the water can reduce the weight of your body by about 90 percent. An effective exercise to start with is to walk in waist-high water from one side of the pool to the other while swinging your arms similar to the way you do when you walk on land. If you're comfortable in deeper water, move to the deep end of the pool, straddle a swim noodle and move your arms and legs as if you are a cross-country skier. For more challenge, increase the resistance by wearing hand webs.
Low-impact cardio workout options, providing you have access to a gym or a fitness center, include exercising on a stationary bicycle or an elliptical machine. Workouts on both types of equipment can easily elevate your heart rate without putting a lot of strain on your knees. When you work out on the bicycle, be sure to adjust the seat to the right height. A seat that is too low requires you to bend your knees more than 90 degrees, which can put more strain on your knees. With an elliptical machine your feet stay on large pedals and the motion is similar to jogging except your feet don't leave the pedals and there's no joint-jarring pounding of your feet against the ground.
Instead of doing a variety of jumping exercises to work your lower body, such as squat jumps, perform deadlifts. Without putting undue stress on your knees, deadlifts help to strengthen your glutes, hamstrings and back muscles while engaging your core. To perform this exercise, hold a dumbbell in each hand, stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold the weights in front of your thighs, palms facing your thighs. While keeping your legs and back as straight as possible, bend your hips, push your butt backward and lean forward until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Pause for a count of one, return to the standing position and repeat. Perform two to three sets of 15 reps.
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