Weight loss with bad knees

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Are You Overweight with Knee Pain? Learn These 7 Easy Exercises Even Obese People Can Do

About 20% of American adults suffer from knee pain, which makes sense considering two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. Those extra pounds increase the stress on your knees, which can cause chronic pain and lead to other knee-related complications, such as arthritis or osteoarthritis. Fortunately, exercise can help you lose weight and fat, gain muscle, and keep your knees healthy!

Right now you’re probably thinking, “Exercise? Really? Won’t exercise only make my knees hurt even worse?”

Actually, regular exercise can lessen and alleviate overweight and obesity-related knee pain, stiffness, and swelling. The key to treatment and prevention of knee pain is strengthening the muscles around your knee. Having strong muscles helps absorb the shock, relieving your knee joint of extra stress and pain.

7 Easy Exercises for Overweight People with Knee Pain

Rather you’re a beginner or seasoned pro, exercise can seem like a daunting task at times, especially if you have a bad knee. Fortunately, exercise doesn’t have to be hard or dreadful to be beneficial! Actually, low-impact and gentle workouts are best for your knees. These 7 exercises help minimize stress on your knee joints while increasing your flexibility and strength.

1. Up and Downs (Grab a Chair)

  1. Sit in a firm, armless chair with your feet flat on the floor and your arms crossed or loose at your sides, whichever feels more balanced.
  2. Slowly stand up, using controlled movements, until you reach your full height.
  3. Hold for a few seconds, and then slowly sit down again. Repeat for about a minute.

2. Hamstring Stretch

  1. Sitting at the edge of your chair, straighten one leg out in front of your body with your heel on the floor and your toes pointed towards the ceiling.
  2. Then, sit up straight and try pushing your navel towards your thigh without leaning the trunk of your body forwards.
  3. Repeat 3 times for each leg.

3. Calf Raises

  1. Stand facing the back of your chair.
  2. Slowly raise your heels as high as you can, then lower.
  3. Do 3 sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.

4. Calf Stretch

  1. Face the back of your chair with one leg straight behind you and the other in front of you, slightly bent.
  2. Place your hands over the top of your chair with a light grip.
  3. Keep your back leg straight with both heels planted on the floor and lean your torso towards the top of your chair. You should feel this in the calf of your back leg.
  4. Hold for a few seconds and then switch legs. Repeat for about a minute.

5. Straight Leg Raises

  1. Lie down with 1 leg bent at a 90-degree angle and your foot flat on the floor. Extend your other leg fully.
  2. Tighten your quadriceps (thigh muscles) within your straightened leg and raise it to a 45-degree angle.
  3. Hold your leg in this elevated position for about 1 or 2 seconds before slowly lowering it back to the ground.
  4. Do 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions.

6. Hamstring Curls

  1. Lie flat on your stomach.
  2. Slowly bring your heels as close to your butt as you can and hold that position.
  3. Do 3 sets of 15 repetitions.

Tip: You can also do this exercise standing while you hold onto the back of your chair and lift one leg at a time.

7. Knee Rolls

    1. Lie on your back, bending your knees so your feet are flat on the floor.
    2. Keep your arms at your side and your eyes on the ceiling.
    3. Simultaneously, look towards the left and slowly lower both knees to the right (trying to keep your knees together) until you feel a gentle stretch in your thighs and lower back.
    4. Hold this stretch for 5 seconds and then slowly lift your knees back to center. Repeat 10 times on each side, with short rests in between.

NOTE: Mild discomfort during exercise is perfectly normal and healthy. However, if you experience severe pain stop exercising immediately and make an appoint with your doctor.

Top 3 Low Impact Cardio Exercises for Bad Knees

  1. Swimming

    Swimming is one of the best cardio exercises for your knees. It helps strengthen weak bones and muscles and improves your flexibility. Plus, it’s fun, so dive on into your local swimming pool! Unlike weight-bearing activities that place stress on your knees as your feet hit the hard surface, your body is buoyant in water, lessening the impact and pressure on your knee joints. Plus, most people can exercise longer in water without strenuous effort or joint pain!

  2. Elliptical Trainer

    If you’re not a fan of swimming, you might want to consider trying an elliptical trainer. You will burn roughly the same amount of calories using an elliptical trainer as you would on a treadmill. Plus, your feet never leave the pedals, so there is less chance of injuring your knees. Think of this exercise as running but without the impact!

  3. Walking

    Simply going for a good old-fashioned walk is a great form of low-impact cardio and has multiple health benefits, which can help alleviate knee pain.

3 Exercises to Avoid If You Have Knee Pain

Rather you are at a healthy weight, overweight, or obese, avoid the following exercises if you have sore knees:

  • Running
  • Lunges
  • Deep Squats

We understand that knee pain can make it difficult to exercise. With that said, if you are overweight and want to start exercising but could use some extra support, this knee brace is a comfortable way to reduce knee pain, discomfort, and stress.

See more knee support options.

Low-Impact Workout for People with Bad Knees

Are you starting to work out and have a lot of weight to lose first to reduce the impact on your knees? Or you have painful knees and high-impact exercise just isn’t in your future…at all?

No worries, there are plenty of low-impact exercises you can do that will get your heart rate up, strengthen your muscles and give you a great workout.

Working out with bad knees

High-impact workouts like plyometrics and running are not for everybody. People with bad knees can find these workouts really challenging and even painful.

I know from experience because I have bad knees, too. And it takes a lot of recovery techniques like yoga and foam rolling on a consistent basis to keep my knees feeling good to do those high-impact activities.

However, bad knees don’t need to stop you from getting active. There is a lot of low-impact workout recommendations for people with bad knees, even beginners.

Here, I will share 5 low-impact exercises for bad knees that you can do anytime, anywhere. These exercises require only your own body weight! Outside, at home, in your hotel room…these exercises are perfect for all occasions!

How to do the low knee impact exercises workout

  • Perform all of these exercises for 1 minute each.
  • At the end of all 5 exercises, rest for 60-90 seconds
  • Repeat for 3-5 rounds

Are you ready?

1. High Knee Pull Down

Exercise tip:

Try to bring that knee up above the bellybutton to effectively engage your core. And, really activate that mind-muscle connection and pretend like you are actually pulling something down.

2. Standing Knee-to-Elbow

Exercise tip:

Keep all the weight in your base leg. The lifted leg should only tap on the ground. Really squeeze your obliques (your side abs) as you bring your knee to your elbow to get the most out of this exercise.

3. Knee Tuck Crunches

Exercise tip:

Keep your chin off of your chest, shoulders down and away from the ears and keep your back straight.

4. Punches

Exercise tip:

Keep your knees slightly bent and your core engaged. Focus on something in front of you and concentrate on hitting that point! You can even write down something that’s bothering you on a piece of paper and tape it to the wall. A great way to release some negative energy.

5. Squatting Side Step

Exercise tip:

Stay low in the squat with your chest up and core engaged and just step side to side (as wide as feels comfortable for you). You can also add a resistance band around the ankles for an added challenge.

Do you have bad knees and have a favorite low-impact exercise? Share it with us in the comments section below! Happy sweating!

***

Anyone with a knee injury, new or old, will know how easy it is to feel it flair up with extreme cardio.

Running, in particular, can be very tough on the knees – so what exercises can you do to get the heart rate up, without hurting already bad knees? And is there a low impact exercise that’s the best?

To answer both of these questions WH enlisted the help of Lorraine Furmedge, Fitness First PT Ambassador.

Below, she highlights how to stay active even when burning in the knee strikes. However, if you are suddenly experiencing pain, or have suffered a knee impact injury then do seek professional medical help. The internet is no replacement for an IRL assessment – even if your doc says you’re fit to exercise it was worth the trip just for this sign off.

Keep reading for what the experts believe are the best exercises for women with bad knees.

Cardio exercises for bad knees

1. Swimming

If you’re on the search for cardio exercises for bad knees, head to the pool. Swimming provides a great workout that is low impact, versatile and burns calories fast. Whether you’re doing the butterfly or backstroke you’ll work all major muscle groups in your body including your glutes, abdominals and chest muscles.

Wondering which is the best stroke?

Freestyle, which tends to be the fastest stroke, can burn 100 calories every 10 minutes – more than jogging – but all of them will work your whole body.

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2. Elliptical

Exercise is a stress on the body and can cause more inflammation so opt for the elliptical machine over a treadmill for minimal risk of knee injury. Your feet never leave the pedals, which means there is less of a chance to injury to your knees, back, neck or hips. You’ll also get your heart rate up, which helps to burn more calories and build cardio fitness. Increase the resistant to really test your endurance.

There’s a lot of discussion around which cardio machines burn more calories, and generally, the treadmill does tend to come out on top given you are moving whilst also supporting the full weight of your body but elliptical trainers are fantastic for getting in a great cardio workout with a bit more support.

With any form of exercise, you get out what you put in so it all depends on how hard you push and challenge yourself.

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3. Rowing

Rowing is a great way to burn calories without placing stress on your knee joints. Not only will you get a total body workout, you’ll also maximise your core strength with every pull.

Amp up the intensity by increasing the resistance while maintaining speed for a real cardiovascular challenge.

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The more you train on a certain machine, the more stamina and strength your body will gain in that particular area, meaning the harder you have to work each time to continue challenging yourself.

Right now, this low-impact exercise is going from strength-to-strength no injury or not. Get onboard, pronto.

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4. Cycling

Whether you prefer hitting a stationary bike indoors or riding your bicycle outside, you’ll get a fantastic fat-burning workout that will gradually improve your knee flexibility and strength.

To ensure you don’t put pressure on your knees, avoid hills and stick to a flat terrain. Raise your seat level slightly to decrease any pressure on your kneecap.

Wondering what resistance you should use? When it comes to cycling with resistance, there is no right or wrong answer.

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Low resistance is great for those people who are just getting into fitness as it allows you to start building up your stamina without over-exerting yourself. Likewise, those suffering with knee injuries may find this an effective and low impact way of getting their regular exercise sessions in without causing further damage.

Medium and high resistance is more suited to those with higher fitness levels and works really well when it comes to building strength in your legs and lower body. If you’ve recently recovered from a knee injury consider using resistance to increase your strength and safeguard against any further damage. However, do check in with your gym instructor or PT before making like you’re part of Team Sky.

To combine cardio and strength you can try interval training and switch between low resistance sprints and medium-high resistance climbs.

Wondering about spin classes? Don’t fret. All good spin instructors will check for injuries before the class begins so let them know and they’ll be able to advise on how to best tackle the session.

Plus, the beauty of spin is that you can carry out the class at your own pace. Remember, you are in control and can adjust your pace according to your ability.

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5. Step-Ups

For a low-impact cardio workout, turn to an aerobic step bench.

Step up onto the step with your right foot. Tap your left foot on the top of the step and then lower.

As you step up, your knee should be directly over your ankle to ensure you’re protecting your knees.

Repeat 10 times for a great calorie burn.

6. Pilates

Pilates may not initially spring to mind when thinking about exercises for bad knees but it’s a strong contender in the workout category. According to the NHS this form of fitness is suitable for women with knee problems when done correctly. ‘Regular pilates practice can help improve posture, muscle tone, balance and joint mobility, as well as relieve stress and tension,’ the national advice service says.

If you’re not sure where to start try this pilates workout for people with knee problems. Now breathe a sigh of relief – you can workout when you know how.

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6 Smart Ways to Lose Weight When You Have Knee Osteoarthritis

“It can help people to have a structured program in the beginning, so they can feel more confident that they won’t overdo it,” Lieberman says.

Without a physical therapist, for example, you might not realize that exercising your legs with weights, like with the machines you find in a gym, are not good for knee osteoarthritis. “It’s fine to do straight leg raises in a chair, which strengthen the quads above the knees. But it can injure the joint to push the leg against resistance,” she says.

Related: 10 Essential Facts About Metabolism and Weight Loss

2. Start working out in the water to help lose weight with knee osteoarthritis.

Whether you work with a therapist or on your own, the best way to begin an exercise program that you’ll stick with is to move without pain. For people with knee osteoarthritis, “that means swimming, swimming, swimming,” Lieberman says.

Moving in water — which includes pool aerobics or swimming laps — allows the joint to flex with no gravity or weight against it.

After you’ve built confidence and a bit of muscular heft, you can go on to other workouts, such as fast walking outside or on a treadmill, or using an elliptical at a moderate speed.

“Listen to your body after you do any workout,” Lieberman says. If you have pain that lasts more than a couple of hours after, stop and speak to your physician or physical therapist.

Related: Tennis Great Chris Evert’s 5 Tips for Embracing Exercise at Any Age

3. Pack each breakfast with protein to help lose weight with knee osteoarthritis.

Americans are good at eating enough protein and fiber for lunch and dinner: a salad with grilled chicken, a turkey sandwich with a side of slaw, meat loaf with veggies.

But breakfast is where many fall short, says Lauren Harris-Pincus, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist in Green Brook, New Jersey. Bagels, croissants — even healthier oatmeal — have nowhere near the 20 to 35 grams of protein per meal that are recommended and that keep us feeling full, she says.

Harris-Pincus, author of The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club, says pairing protein with fiber makes for the best meals, especially when you are trying to lose weight.

Her go-to: overnight oats, which she makes by filling a jar with oats, plain Greek yogurt (or nut or cow’s milk), a tablespoon of flavored protein powder, chia seeds, and fruit, then letting it soak overnight in the fridge. By switching up the fruits and the flavor of the powder (one day it’s pear-coconut, another banana-vanilla), she gets variety in her daily oatmeal.

Eggs offer another good protein-fiber breakfast choice. Make a vegetable omelet, or pair scrambled eggs with high-fiber berries like raspberries or blackberries.

4. Confront the emotions behind overeating to help lose weight with knee osteoarthritis.

Dietitians used to focus on giving clients information, such as advising them on which eating plans were best. Now many spend as much time helping clients understand the emotions they bring to food, which is crucial for successful weight loss.

“People eat because they’re happy, stressed, bored, angry, or in pain, not always because they’re hungry,” Harris-Pincus says. “We work to understand what motivates them to eat, which is very individualized.”

Of course, an appropriate eating plan is also important. “Any diet you can’t do long-term is not worth doing,” she says.

Some of the best diets for weight loss are the Mediterranean diet and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), which are full of healthy foods like vegetables and fruits, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats like nuts, seeds, and olive oil.

Harris-Pincus cautions, however, that if you are trying to lose weight, you must curb the portions of high-fat foods on these plans, like oils and avocados. “They are healthy foods, but they contain a lot of calories,” she says.

Find an RDN near you by putting your ZIP code into the “Find a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist” feature on the website of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Related: Why Exercise Boosts Mood and Energy

5. Keep your eye on the prize to help lose weight with knee osteoarthritis.

Losing weight is a marathon. And like any marathon, you need to stay motivated when you can’t yet see the finish line. As with any project that takes a while, there will be highs and lows.

A good way to get through the troughs is to remind yourself of what you’re hoping to accomplish, including less knee pain, Lieberman says.

Related: How to Pick the Best Fitness Tracker for You

Lieberman likens weight loss to redecorating your home. “When you redecorate, you’re going to have covered furniture that you can’t sit on, the mess of painting your walls, and other discomfort and aggravations,” she says. But you go through it because eventually you’ll have a beautiful home. And if you stick with your diet and exercise plans, you’ll have your desired body weight.

Related: 7 Exercises to Help Relieve Joint Pain

6. Find a buddy to help lose weight with knee osteoarthritis.

Even when people with KOA know that healthy lifestyle habits will help them, it can be hard to stay on track. Research published in The Journal of Rheumatology found that joining forces with people who share similar challenges is a good way to motivate yourself to change bad habits.

Find a friend with knee osteoarthritis to exercise with, or if you don’t know anyone, ask around at events sponsored by your local Arthritis Foundation chapter to see if someone wants to pair up with you, Lieberman suggests.

“If you make exercise social and fun, you’ll want to do it more often,” she says.

Knee osteoarthritis: What’s the best weight loss plan?

A new study set out to explore the best weight loss regimen for overweight and obese people living with osteoarthritis of the knees.

Share on PinterestKnee osteoarthritis can sometimes lead to knee replacement surgery, as cartilage damage cannot be reversed.

Osteoarthritis is the commonest form of arthritis and the most common joint disorder in the United States.

Specifically, osteoarthritis of the knees affects 10 percent of men and 13 percent of women aged 60 and above in the U.S.

It is widely accepted that obesity is a risk factor for arthritis. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost a third (31 percent) of obese U.S. adults have now been diagnosed with arthritis by their physician.

But how can these individuals slow down the progressive degeneration of the joints that occurs in osteoarthritis?

Studies have revealed that for obese and overweight people, weight loss can make a difference. Losing weight reduces the activity of inflammatory immune cells that are thought to be key in the osteoarthritis-related degradation of the cartilages.

But until now, it was not clear whether some weight loss regimens were more effective than others. So, researchers led by Dr. Alexandra Gersing, from the Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging at the University of California, San Francisco, set out to investigate the impact of dieting alone, dieting and exercise, or exercise alone on the progression of knee osteoarthritis.

“Once cartilage is lost in osteoarthritis, the disease cannot be reversed,” explains Dr. Gersing. So, finding the best plan for reducing knee cartilage damage is crucial.

The new findings were presented at this year’s annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, held in Chicago, IL.

Exercise alone does not work

Dr. Gersing and colleagues investigated the progression of knee osteoarthritis in 760 people with a body mass index (BMI) higher than 25 kilograms per square meter. The participants were 62 years old, on average, and they were enlisted in the Osteoarthritis Initiative national research project.

The participants had either risk factors for osteoarthritis or a mild to moderate form of the disease.

Of the 760 participants, 380 lost weight and 380 did not. Those who lost weight were broken down into three subgroups, by weight loss method. One group followed a diet and engaged in exercise, another group did only exercise, and a third group lost weight through diet alone.

Dr. Gersing and team assessed the progression of osteoarthritis using MRI at baseline, 48 months later, and 96 months later (the end of the study). Over the 96-month period, the degeneration of the cartilage was drastically lower in the weight loss group compared with the no-weight loss group.

Importantly, however, these promising results were found only among those who lost weight through a combination of diet and exercise, or just diet.

Interestingly, this was true despite the fact that those in the exercise-only group lost just as much weight as those in the diet only and diet plus exercise group.

Compared with those who did not lose any weight, exercise-alone weight loss had no influence on cartilage degeneration.

The study authors conclude, “Results suggest that cartilage degeneration is slowed through weight loss in obese and overweight subjects over 96 months. This protective effect was, however, only found in subjects losing weight through diet and combined exercise and diet programs.”

“These results add to the hypothesis that solely exercise as a regimen in order to lose weight in overweight and obese adults may not be as beneficial to the knee joint as weight loss regimens involving diet.”

Dr. Alexandra Gersing

Intensive weight loss helps knee arthritis

At a Glance

  • Intensive weight loss from diet and exercise was better than moderate weight loss for relieving symptoms of knee arthritis among obese or overweight older adults.
  • The findings suggest that intensive weight loss of 20% can help reduce painful knee arthritis in people who are overweight or obese.

The study found that intensive weight loss from diet and exercise can help relieve symptoms of knee arthritis. paintedwithlight/iStock/Thinkstock

More than 30 million adults in the United States have osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis. Women are more likely than men to develop the disease. Osteoarthritis causes breakdown of the tissue that cushions where bones meet to form a joint. This breakdown allows the bones to rub together, causing pain and swelling. One cause of tissue breakdown is mechanical stress from excess weight on the knees or other joints. Another is the uptick of inflammation-related substances, such as interleukin-6 (IL-6), in people with osteoarthritis.

Several years ago, a team of investigators led by Dr. Stephen P. Messier of Wake Forest University found that 10% weight loss can improve the symptoms of osteoarthritis in obese and overweight older adults. In their randomized controlled clinical trial conducted from 2006 to 2011, weight loss from diet and exercise reduced pain and inflammation and helped adults walk faster and function better. This and other studies provided additional evidence for NIH’s 1998 guidelines recommending 10% weight loss to improve the symptoms of a number of obesity-related conditions, including osteoarthritis.

For their new study, the researchers analyzed the results to determine whether losing 20% or more weight through diet and exercise further reduced symptoms of knee osteoarthritis. The work was funded by NIH’s National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) and National Institute on Aging (NIA). Results were published online in Arthritis Care & Research on June 18, 2018.

The research team analyzed data collected from 240 overweight and obese older adults with painful osteoarthritis of the knee. All were at least 55 years old and had a sedentary lifestyle. Most were white (85%) and female (72%). During the 18-month diet and exercise study, 74 lost less than 5%, 59 lost 5% to 9.9%, 76 lost 10% to 19.9%%, and 31 lost 20% or more of their body weight.

People who lost 20% or more of their body weight had significantly less inflammation (lower IL-6 levels in blood samples) than people who lost less than 5%. The 20% or more group also reported less pain and could walk farther in a 6-minute test than those who lost less than 5%. Differences in pain and function between the 20% or more group and the 10% to 19.9% were promising as well. However, the overall sample size was too small to say that these effects were not due to chance. Research with a larger sample is needed.

The researchers noted that for those with weight loss of 10% or greater, bone mineral density dropped. But it did not drop to a clinically important threshold.

“Substantially greater weight loss, achieved safely, has the added benefit of improved quality of life, and clinically important reductions in pain and improvement in function,” Messier says. “The importance of our study is that a weight loss of 20% or greater—double the previous standard—results in better clinical outcomes and is achievable without surgical or pharmacologic intervention.”

The investigators are now working to recruit more than 800 people in North Carolina for a study of osteoarthritis, diet, and exercise (NCT02577549).

—by Geri Piazza

How To Exercise With Bad Knees | Cross Training

A major burden on knees is being overweight or obese. Carrying extra weight puts extra strain on the joints.

In fact, every pound of body weight means at least three extra pounds of stress at the knee joint.

The good news is, losing weight can have incredible benefits. Shedding just five pounds can take at least 15 pounds of stress off the knees.

At Pritikin, the health resort’s diet and exercise program results in well-documented weight loss, which in and of itself “contributes greatly to the pain relief that many of our guests start experiencing here,” notes Mr. Musumeci.

“But even for people who are normal weight, knee pain happens.”

For all guests, one key technique taught at Pritikin to minimize knee pain is cross training. “We advise our guests to walk for everyday living, like shopping and walking at the office, but we coach them in using other forms of movement for cardiovascular exercise, such as air-resistant bicycles, ellipticals, and swimming.”

Back and Joint Pain Prevention

If knee pain compromises your ability to exercise, this Back and Joint Pain Prevention Package is for you. Get expert attention. Learn how to exercise without knee pain.

Water-based workouts like aqua jogging with friction shoes have proven especially effective. “We’ve found that for many of our guests with knee pain, this workout does a very good job of raising heart rate and strengthening the muscles in the legs, but without the impact.”

How To Exercise With Bad Knees | Stress Relief

Another strategy at Pritikin is learning how to put less stress on the knees while walking. Guests are taught, for example, to:

  • Wear proper walking shoes
  • Use treadmills with very good shock absorbency built into them (which usually means staying away from the cheaper brands of treadmills)
  • Choose kinder, gentler surfaces when walking outside – grass or running tracks, for instance, instead of cement

“One form of cardio-exercise that works well for many of our guests is the retro treadmill,” adds Mr. Musumeci. Essentially, it’s walking backwards. “It has less heel strike compared to regular treadmills, which means you’re absorbing the shock a little bit better, but it gives you a great cardio workout and strengthening of the quads.”

How To Exercise With Bad Knees | Flexibility Training

A daily mantra of Mr. Musumeci and the entire exercise staff at Pritikin is: Walking is an exercise, but there are other exercises that we should perform so that we can walk well.

Almost every day at the health resort, guests attend flexibility classes that help:

  • Create less wear and tear on joints, including knee joints
  • Develop a strong core
  • Maintain good biomechanical alignment
  • Relieve pain, from the feet up

Bottom Line:

Many Americans, particularly those age 50 and older, have resigned themselves to pain. They feel it’s simply a normal condition, a part of getting older.

“While it’s true that pain, particularly knee, feet, hip, and back pain, often comes with age, here at Pritikin we help our guests find ways to work around that pain,” counsels Mr. Musumeci.

“We minimize it, and sometimes even eliminate it, all of which helps people get back to exercising and achieving great cardiovascular fitness.”

Health Resort

Take life to the next level, and be all that you can be. That’s what a vacation at Pritikin is all about. Live better. Look better. Best of all, feel better.

All-Inclusive Program

Since 1975, 100,000+ people have come to Pritikin. We are the longest-running, most scientifically documented health resort in America.

Rooms and Suites

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“High Impact” Cardio vs. “High Intensity” Cardio

Thousands of SLIMQUICK users just like you are on an exciting weight loss journey! We’re here to support you along the way, and are thrilled to answer all of the many questions we get from users through email, the message boards, personal messaging and Facebook – keep them coming! All questions are important, so we’ve decided to feature some of the most frequently asked questions that we get every month. We’re all in this together, and if you’ve been wondering about particular weight loss issues, the odds are that several other women just like you have been wondering about the same ones. We’re here for you, and want to do everything we can to make sure that you succeed on your weight loss journey. Always feel free to add any more questions or concerns you have in the Comments section below. Wishing you health & happiness, Your SLIMQUICK Coach

Question: I really need some exercise advice. I get really bad knee pains (I had knee surgery on my left knee a few years back, and continue to get pain in both legs), so running, jogging and high intensity exercises are out of the question for me. Not being able to exercise is really discouraging, and makes it really hard for me to lose the weight. What are good cardio exercises that burn a lot of calories that I can do despite my bad knees?

SLIMQUICK Coach: Hi there! I’m so glad you asked this question! Everyday life can really wear and tear on the knees. From the most sedentary people to pro-athletes in tip-top form, knee pain and injury is one of the most common joint issues that people complain of.

Knee pain can be especially frustrating when you’re trying to lose weight and incorporate more physical activity into your life. Many common exercises (like running) exert a lot of pressure on the joints and knees, exacerbating pain and possibly leading to further injury and osteoarthritis. And because there seems to be a general impression that the more joint-pounding an exercise, the better the workout it provides, I see many people with knee problems either continue to torture themselves with these high-impact moves, or else just give up on exercise all together – both roads lead to harmful results, which ultimately gets in the way of successful weight loss and good health in the long run anyway.

It’s important for people with chronic joint pain, back pain and injury to remember this: when it comes to cardiovascular exercise and weight loss, what you’re doing isn’t always as important as how you are doing it.

An intense five-mile run or a set of jump squats may rank top marks as excellent calorie- burners on paper, but if each bounce brings on a flurry of pain or tissue damage, you’re hardly doing your body any favors by continuing to do it. A svelte waist-line will be much harder to maintain in the future if you keep grinding your knees towards eventual destruction in the present. You’re much better off finding something that strengthens – rather than breaks down – your body, that gets your heart rate up to burn body fat while also protecting your joints and improving your overall health and longevity.

Terms like “high impact” and “high intensity” get thrown around a lot in the exercise and weight loss world, and these terms are often used interchangeably. However, there seems to be a lot of confusion around what these terms really mean. Understanding these exercise concepts will help you be able to customize the safest and most effective workout for yourself, to get you losing weight without exacerbating your knee issues.

Typically, high impact exercises require you to lift both your feet off the ground at the same time. Examples include running, jogging, hopping, skipping rope, jumping jacks, step aerobics, plyometrics, etc. These are called “high impact” because the momentum of your body lifting off the ground and coming back down again creates an impact that must be absorbed by your muscles, which causes them to work hard and burn calories. The problem is that the impact must also be absorbed by your joints and spine, which can lead to stress injuries, pain and damage in some people.

Low impact exercises, on the other hand, are usually performed with one or both of your feet on the ground at all times, such as walking, dancing, skating, rollerblading, running on an elliptical, swimming, etc. Because your body doesn’t leave the ground, there is less impact that must be absorbed by your muscles, back, knees and lower body joints. That’s what makes low-impact cardio exercises more ideal for someone who is just beginning with exercise, for someone who is overweight, or for someone with any kind of joint/bone/tissue pain or injury.

However, that doesn’t mean that low impact exercises are necessarily low intensity exercises. While “impact” refers to the force being placed on the body, “intensity” refers to the effort you put into the exercise. Increasing the force your body has to work against burns calories, but so does increasing your effort, and one doesn’t necessarily have to do with the other.

Further, intensity isn’t only created through the force of up-down movements – it can also be increased by moving side to side. The key is to put every ounce of effort that you can into the movement, by increasing your speed, distance, range of motion and resistance. These are the things that will stimulate your body to burn more fat.

So don’t be discouraged by the exercises that you can’t do because of your knee pain. There’s more than one way to burn fat! Discover movements that you can do, that do not cause pain – even if that involves just moving your limbs while lying on the floor. Do these movements continuously, as fast as you can, through as wide a range as you can, giving it everything you’ve got. The key is to get your heart rate and breath rate to quicken, and to sustain this challenging level of intensity (or increase it) for as long as you can.

There’s More Than One Way to Burn Fat

Remember: To increase calorie burn, increase one or more of these when you exercise: Effort, Endurance, Speed, Distance, Range of motion, Resistance.

The key is to get your heart rate and breath rate to quicken, and to sustain this challenging level of intensity (or increase it) for as long as you can.

8 Knee-Friendly Ways to Burn Calories

Here are some good low impact cardio exercises that minimize knee stress while torching fat. Increase the intensity as you get fitter and stronger so that you can get the weight loss results you are after.

  1. Cycling. A basic stationary bike can be purchased at reasonable cost these days (and used ones can be purchased for even cheaper). And if you can bike outdoors, all the better. Cycling is a low impact exercise that is easier on the joints and causes less inflammation and soreness in comparison to high impact exercises. In fact, recent research has even shown that cycling can help improve brain function and memory.
  2. Water Activities. Water activities like swimming, water running and aqua-fitness have been shown to speed up your heart rate, boost blood flow, and increase your lung capacity and burn calories while minimizing the impact on your joints. For people who enjoy running but experience knee pain, water running is a good alternative.
  3. Side Shuffle Steps. Shuffle two to three times to the right, then shuffle two to three times to the left, continuing from side to side as quickly as you can for as long as you can. Try to travel as far as you can with each individual shuffle.
  4. Sprinter Steps. Stand with both feet together. Touch your right toe far back behind you on the floor, and then bring it back to the starting position. Repeat ten times as fast as you can, then switch and repeat with your left leg. Up the intensity level by touching the floor in front of you with your opposite hand every time your toe taps the floor behind you (picture the starting position of a professional runner in a race). Bend from your hips to minimize the pressure on your knees.
  5. Speed-Skater Strides. These involve leaping side to side in wide strides, from one foot to another. To minimize the impact of this exercise, keep one foot on the ground at all times, and keep the leaping foot close to the ground (more like a sliding motion than a jumping motion). Increase intensity by increasing the distance you cover side to side, and also by picking up speed. Picture the side-to-side strides of a speed skater moving down the ice. To ensure knee comfort, keep your body low to the ground.
  6. Dance like nobody’s watching, or like everybody’s watching – whichever one you find more motivating. Blast your favorite tunes, have fun and let loose. The key is to sustain a pace that gets your heart rate up and quickens your breathing, and to keep going at this intensity for as long as you can.
  7. Elliptical Training. The foot pads on an elliptical trainer cradle your joints, so that you can perform the same range of motion that you can while running, minus the impact and knee pain. Another perk is that a lot of elliptical trainers have arm poles for you to grab on to while you run, which you can either use in the stable position for additional support or can move back and forth to get an upper body workout as well.
  8. Back-to-Back Strength Training. When doing strength training or lifting weights, give yourself minimal rest time between sets (aim for no more than 10 to 15 seconds). This will get your heart rate up, boost your cardio and increase fat burning while simultaneously toning your muscles.

A Strong Heart Can Overcome Weak Knees

When it comes right down to it, your cardiovascular system doesn’t really care what you do – as long as you are doing it continuously, intensely and quickly, and you maintain this pace for as long as you can manage, your heart rate will climb, your body will start to consume calories, fat-burning hormones will be stimulated and you’ll start losing weight far more effectively and successfully than you could without cardio training.

TUESDAY, Nov. 28, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Weight loss from dieting can slow the progression of knee arthritis in overweight people, according to a new study.

But losing pounds from exercise alone will not help preserve those aging knees, the researchers found.

Obesity is a major risk factor for painful knee osteoarthritis — degeneration of cartilage caused by wear and tear. Weight loss can slow the disease, but it wasn’t clear until now if the method of weight loss made a difference.

Apparently, it does.

“These results add to the hypothesis that solely exercise as a regimen in order to lose weight in overweight and obese adults may not be as beneficial to the knee joint as weight loss regimens involving diet,” said lead author Dr. Alexandra Gersing.

Gersing made her comments in a news release from the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA). She’s with the University of California, San Francisco’s department of radiology and biomedical imaging.

The study included 760 overweight or obese adults who had mild to moderate knee osteoarthritis or were at risk for it. The participants were divided into a “control group” of patients who lost no weight, and a group who lost weight through either a combination of diet and exercise, diet alone, or exercise alone.

After eight years, cartilage degeneration was much lower in the weight-loss group than in the control group. However, that was true only of people who lost weight through diet and exercise, or diet alone, the investigators found.

Study participants who exercised without changing their diet lost as much weight as those who slimmed down through diet plus exercise or diet alone, but there was no significant difference in cartilage degeneration compared to the control group.

The study was scheduled for presentation Tuesday at the annual meeting of the RSNA, in Chicago. Research presented at medical meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

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