Low Impact Leg Exercises for Bad Knees

two women exercising with rubber on their leg exercises


Are you suffering from knee pain but still want to keep your leg muscles strong and healthy? Look no further! We’ve compiled a list of low impact leg exercises that will help you maintain your fitness without putting excessive strain on your knees. Incorporate these exercises into your workout routine and experience the benefits of stronger legs, improved balance, and reduced knee pain.

  1. Walking: Walking is a fantastic low impact exercise that can be easily adapted to accommodate bad knees. It helps improve cardiovascular health, strengthens the leg muscles, and promotes overall well-being. Ensure you wear comfortable and supportive shoes to minimize any discomfort in your knees.
  2. Cycling: Cycling is a great option for individuals with bad knees as it is a non-weight-bearing exercise. Whether you prefer outdoor biking or using a stationary bike, it offers an excellent cardiovascular workout while putting minimal stress on your joints. Start with shorter durations and gradually increase the intensity as your knees become stronger.
  3. Swimming: Swimming is a highly recommended low impact exercise for individuals with knee pain. The buoyancy of water reduces the pressure on your joints, allowing you to move freely without straining your knees. Engaging in swimming laps, water aerobics, or even treading water can help strengthen your leg muscles while providing a refreshing and enjoyable workout.
  4. Leg Press: The leg press machine is a popular choice for individuals with knee issues. It primarily targets the quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteal muscles without placing excessive stress on the knees. Start with lighter weights and gradually increase the resistance as your knee strength improves. Remember to maintain proper form and avoid locking your knees during the exercise.
  5. Seated Leg Extensions: Seated leg extensions are a low impact exercise that isolates and strengthens the quadriceps muscles. This exercise is performed while seated on a leg extension machine, with your legs extended in front of you. Start with lighter weights and gradually increase as tolerated. Ensure that your knees are properly aligned and avoid hyperextension to prevent any additional strain on your knees.
  6. Step-Ups: Step-ups are an effective low impact exercise for strengthening the leg muscles, particularly the quadriceps and glutes. Find a stable step or platform and step up onto it with one leg, then lower yourself back down. Repeat with the other leg. Start with a lower step height and gradually increase it as you gain strength and stability in your knees.
  7. Seated Calf Raises: Seated calf raises target the calf muscles without placing any strain on the knees. This exercise can be performed while sitting on a chair or bench, with your feet flat on the floor. Raise your heels as high as possible, then lower them back down. Adjust the resistance by adding weights or using a resistance band.
two women stretching their leg exercises in the park


Keeping your leg muscles strong and healthy is crucial, even if you have bad knees. Incorporating low impact leg exercises into your fitness routine can help alleviate knee pain, improve leg strength, and maintain overall mobility. However, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional or physical therapist before starting any exercise program, especially if you have existing knee issues. Remember to listen to your body and modify or stop any exercise that causes discomfort. Stay consistent and gradually increase the intensity of your workouts for optimal results.

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