I have bad knees and wish to do more exercise to lose weight. Running and jogging is bad. Do you have other recommendation? I don't have a bike and my home just have no place for a bike. And I can't swim.

In addition, I've heard other said squating is good for knees, but I wonder if I can do it with 2 dumbbells? Because I don't want to go gym room which require monthly fee. I have a pair of weight-configurable dumbbells so I am wondering if I can do it in free weight mode.

  • 2
    squats can actually be harmful to your knees if you use bad form. That said, you don't need weights to do squats - just your own body weight. If you decide to try squats, just make sure your knees do not go more forward than your toes at the bottom of the squat. Commented Jul 19, 2011 at 11:31
  • Also, if the focus is on losing weight, you should focus on nutrition and eating well more so than exercise. Commented Jul 19, 2011 at 11:32
  • Can you please clarify if you are looking for a sport or exercises for bad knees?
    – Tony R
    Commented Jul 19, 2011 at 14:01
  • 2
    What is wrong with your knees? Depending on the issue, you might be better off strengthening them, or staying off of them.
    – michael
    Commented Jul 19, 2011 at 18:16
  • I do P90X and find it to be an amazing workout program, and they encourage you to modify as much as necessary to be able to "do your best and forget the rest". They even have a guy with one leg in one of the leg workout videos. Plus, No gym membership required as everything can be done at home. beachbody.com/product/fitness_programs/p90x.do?t=p90x2b1 Commented Jul 20, 2011 at 5:50

4 Answers 4


Since you don’t have room for a bike, you won’t have room for an elliptical trainer which is usually a good way to burn calories and is easy on the knees. Rowing and boxing are good and have already been mentioned.

  • Aquatics: Even if you can’t swim, you can still run in water (with or without resistance bands), or participate in an aquatic exercise class. Learning to squat correctly in water is one of the best ways to see how your knees tolerate squats because the buoyancy of the water reduces the weight and strain on your knees. You can also use the resistance of water to strengthen your quads, hamstrings and hip muscles.

  • Nordic Walking: Nordic walking poles can help you burn more calories than regular walking, up to 20% more calories according to the Cooper Institute. Each time you plant the pole you use large muscle groups of the trunk, abs, lats, shoulders and arms. Nordic pole walking is a good alternative to running, because the poles help to reduce some of the stress on your knee joints. (And poles don’t take up any space.)

  • Squats and Resistance Training: You can effectively strengthen large muscle groups to burn calories with resistance training without aggravating your knees. Strengthening and using your gluteus maximus will actually help to protect and improve your knees. Here are some examples of ways to target your glutes without knee strain: 1) Using pulleys - you can also do this with a resistance band at home. 2) Using bodyweight, and a stability ball. If you can tolerate kneeling this exercise also engages your core, and you can add ankle weights to increase your workout. For squats, ball wall squats may be easier on your knees.

Examples of exercises targeting other large muscles with dumbbells are the: chest press, rows, and pullovers

  • Bodyweight Exercises: You can do body weight exercises as a circuit and get your heart rate into your target zone to burn fat. However, you should stay away from exercises with full knee flexion like mountain climbers which can be hard on knees.

Additionally, you will want to strengthen the knee muscles (quads and hamstrings) to protect your knee joints, but you may want to consult a sports or orthopedic physical therapist to give you an appropriate exercise regime that balances out your strength and range of motion, and works on your lower extremity alignment. A good Tai Chi instructor may also help you with your lower extremity alignment.

  • Nutrition: Also remember that diet is a key factor to weight loss. If you are not the one preparing your foods, begin with smaller portion sizes.

Hope this helps.

  • You suggestions have so much detail, I think it is really good. By the way, can you recommend some website which teach us what kind of exercise there are, with categories? Commented Jul 20, 2011 at 16:57
  • If training on particular muscle is good to my knees, I would really love to know which are they and why do they matters. Thanks! Commented Jul 20, 2011 at 17:07
  • Gunbuster, without knowing what is wrong with your knees it would be difficult to recommend any exercises. Generally with knee problems it is safe to do isometrics - you contract the muscle without moving the knee joint. These four basic exercises strengthen the major muscles needed to protect the knee and can be done with ankle weights as tolerated: SLR, Glutes, ABD, ADD. Commented Jul 21, 2011 at 3:20
  • You can also strengthen the quads in standing with a resistance band and minimal movement. But strengthening is only one part of the answer. Flexibility and alignment are also important. It is worth seeing a professional at least once or twice for an evaluation and a set of appropriate exercises. Good luck. Commented Jul 21, 2011 at 3:22

Note, I'm assuming that you've already dismissed the idea of cycling.

My suggestion would be in-line skating, aka roller-blading. Great cardio workout and easy on the knees. The only downside is that it won't burn as many calories as running though.

You may also look into:

  • Swimming
  • Boxing
  • Rowing

I'm going to make a few assumptions: limited space, limited $, slightly overweight (or more), beyond 20 and you're looking to lose weight and improve overall health....

Diet is key to losing weight, start writing down everything you eat for a week (everything) and review the calorie intake each day (use http://www.acaloriecounter.com/ to determine the calories). Use this daily caloric calculator to give you an idea of how many you should be consuming (http://www.healthyweightforum.org/eng/calculators/calories-required/) - remember, calories burned, consumed and required are all estimates - you need to adjust your diet to fit your personal needs and body requirements.

A great way to improve your health is general, simple exercising that you can do every day with little impact to your current schedule. Take a look at Fit Deck (http://fitdeck.com/fitness-bodyweight-only/) body weight exercises that can be done in minimal space, with no required equipment and about 30-45 minutes a day (5 to 6 days a week).

I also ALWAYS recommend finding an activity that interests you and that gets you out and active. Good luck.

  • It's impossible to know the exact calories for my meals.....the food could be fried by oil and who know how many oil are there? And would anyone try to weigh his meal? Commented Jul 19, 2011 at 15:55
  • @gunbuster - there are a lot of people who actually weigh their meals or use pre-packaged meals to regulate their intake. There's also plates designed for portion control....it's all part of the process of weight management Commented Jul 19, 2011 at 17:10

When it comes to knees, your only real safe bet is something in the water. Don't rule out water sports because you can't swim. You can try water volleyball, for instance. There's really no sport worth playing/doing for the purposes of weight loss that isn't going to be somewhat rough on your knees. Probably the only high intensity sport you could get away with here is doubles tennis on a very well maintained clay court.

  • Wouldn't singles tennis be terrible on the knees? I could see doubles though.
    – Tony R
    Commented Jul 19, 2011 at 14:14
  • Yes, which is why I made sure to qualify that by saying only on a very well maintained clay court. Your point is very valid... although I'm not sure I can call doubles tennis intense :)
    – whaley
    Commented Jul 20, 2011 at 13:12

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