Fitness exercise is often a matter of working around injuries, making accommodations. When we are unable to max out a workout, we can always exercise the parts of our bodies that are in working order. We can also keep working those problem parts to a lesser extent.

I have knees that are bone-on-bone. My choices are: joint replacement, doing no cardio exercise or looking for exercises that I can still do. Wearing knee braces is also helpful.

I can not currently go out for a run or even a long walk. I can no longer play tennis for 3 hours straight with breaks only on odd games. Playing basketball is such a distant memory that I almost forgot the many hours of play and practice.

Those who still have healthy limbs would do well to celebrate their good fortune. Pick out a sport you love and try to perfect it. If you’re like me, you will not even think of it as exercise. It is an enjoyable pastime with competition. Better fitness is almost a secondary benefit.

My knees are broken down by osteoarthritis. Many professional athletes have found their knee injuries to be career-ending.

This post will touch upon the value of cardiovascular exercise, the exercises still available for those with bad knees and the equipment that may help us out. Professional athletes have team doctors and facilities that will help them get back on the field or the court. This post is for those amateurs who want to stay active.


First of all, cardio exercise refers to getting your heart pumping, while aerobic exercise refers to the use of oxygen to produce energy. As far as I know, the exercise movements to accomplish both are the same.

Cardio exercises are well known – running, brisk walking, swimming, cycling, heavy cleaning/gardening and sports like soccer.

Paraphrasing Healthline and noting that they use cardio and aerobics interchangeably, here are the benefits:

  • Lowering blood pressure – keeping your arteries clear by raising high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL, the good cholesterol)
  • Regulating blood sugar – insulin levels are regulated and body weight is lowered
  • Reducing pain – swimming and water sports help to improve muscle function and endurance, thus less pain
  • Aiding sleep – studies show that the quality and duration of sleep are improved with cardio, but finish the exercise at least two hours before bedtime
  • Regulating weight – cardio exercise will help us lose weight and maintain that loss, especially with a healthy diet

  • Strengthening our immune system – moderate and regular cardio exercise will raise the immunoglobulins in our blood and thus improve our immune system function
  • Improving brain power – studies with MRI scans show that older adults who exercise have fewer reductions in the frontal, parietal and temporal areas of the brain
  • Boosting our moods – even short periods of exercise will reduce depression
  • Reducing the risk of falls – one in three people over age 65 will fall each year, which may result in broken bones or disabilities. Aerobic dancing and balance exercise will reduce this dramatically


With bad knees, we may need to be more careful and also more inventive. I still take brief walks on my treadmill or outside. There are two other things I do:

  • I work out with light weights or other forms of resistance and do high reps. By high, I mean 30-50 reps. At the end of a set, I am breathing hard.
  • Doing chores has become a form of exercise to replace the traditional forms at times – I will thoroughly clean a room or pull up weeds. The best thing about this is to be able to immediately see results (apart from the physical).

Swimming or water aerobics are great for cardio workouts with bad knees, because of the low impact on our bodies. We can burn calories quickly in the water, while working out our entire bodies. Start with freestyle, which will burn up to 100 calories every 10 minutes.

There are also pieces of exercise equipment that are especially suitable for protecting our knees. The selections below are available through Amazon.

As an Amazon associate, I may benefit from activity on the links I use. This has no effect on the pricing. Each link provides detailed information, images, reviews and further links to similar choices.useful for this form of cardio.

Elliptical machine – with 16 resistance levels

Exercise bike – for recumbent workouts

Rowing machine – with 16 levels of quiet resistance

Tai Chi is also great for exercise with bad knees, because of its gentle movements. Check out this video

Here is a Tai Chi DVD – with 8 lessons for beginners

This watch will measure heart rate, blood oxygen, blood pressure and blood sugar

Here is an ice pack wrap for knee pain

A knee brace with side stabilizers


(1) My favorite modes of exercise for high reps – both cardio and strength building – are the Bullworker tools. I use the Steel Bow and Bow Classic. I am able to use both the isotonic and isometric modes and get the results I am looking for.

Martial artist and movie star Bruce Lee trained with Bullworkers to develop his striking strength.

See my Bullworker link at the side of my website and check out all their equipment

(2) The iconic Total Gym may be the perfect piece of home workout equipment for a total body workout with protection of injured knees.


My primary message in this post is that we need not stop working out when we have injuries or when we are going through the ravages of aging.

All we need to do is to consider work – arounds. If we can’t do a full body workout any more, we can still exercise our parts that are in working order.

Along with our motivation to continue with healthy exercise, it is important to check with our team of doctors or primary care physician for their input.

There are many forms or exercise to address our different muscle groups. We only need to become aware of those that provide the resistance we need while protecting our physical weaknesses.

By all means, let’s maintain our motivation for fitness and better health!

Please leave me any questions or comments in the “Comments” section below. Or email me, richard@myworkoutathome.com.


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