Belly Overhang Elimination
Exercises for Bad Knees
Weak and painful knees can be the result of injury, over-stress or simply genetics, but the aching truth is that bad knees can seriously limit your workouts. Knee replacement surgery is not recommended except in absolutely vital situations and the cost is prohibitive to the average exerciser, and many people eventually give up on ever being able to carry on a normal fitness program. There is good news, though: think outside the box of normal exercise and there are still plenty of options that don't place as much stress on the knee joint. You may not be able to run a marathon but you can still build a healthy body without totally ruining your knees.
Yoga is an excellent option for achy knees. The activity has gained in popularity since the 1990's, not simply because it can be very relaxing but because it builds strength without putting the body under duress. Even professional sports players now incorporate yoga practice into everyday fitness because of the benefits for both mind and body. Most yoga studios will offer classes that are as low-stress as possible, so call around and talk to some of the staff to find out. Explain that you are looking specifically to avoid strain on the knees - qualified yoga practitioners will be able to tell you if their studio will meet your needs. You can almost always observe a class for free and typically you will be allowed to take one free session, so make the most of this consumer advantage to identify if this is an exercise and class that you enjoy.
You may not have a local yoga studio or simply have no interest in taking outside classes - no problem! The teacher will simply come to you. There are literally hundreds of yoga videos on the market today, many of them specifically designed with bad knees in mind, so all you have to do is find the video that suits you best. Do an internet search for specific videos and read reviews from other users. If you order through a catalog, you frequently are allowed a grace period in which to try the video out and return it if it is unsuitable. Once you have found a video that fits your lifestyle and appeals to you, watch the video several times to learn the rhythm of the instructor and become comfortable with the pace of the movements. Learning the poses ahead of time makes your practice with the video much easier. Once you've got the hang of your yoga video, practice with it three times during the week to begin with and then as your strength increases, practice more until you have a daily routine built up. Yoga is a very gentle exercise but you will be amazed at the changes you see in your body within the first two or three weeks.
If you really do want the teacher to physically come to you, many professionals are available for private at-home sessions for a price. It may be expensive, so consider splitting the price and sharing the instructor with two or three friends. The practice is still private and the teaching is individual, but the price becomes much more manageable.
A practice similar to yoga is Pilates. Yoga focuses more on stretching and toning while maintaining deep breathing, but Pilates focuses on building strength. Originally developed by Joseph Pilates in a World War II concentration camp, the program uses a series of movements that employ the body's weight as its resistance to train and strengthen muscles. Few movements require strain on the knees and the leg exercises can increase the strength of the quadriceps and hamstring muscles to better support the knee joints. The first movements of Pilates zero in on the "powerhouse" or core area to build muscle support for the spine. By having a strong midsection that can keep the upper body erect, you lessen the strain placed on the knees by poor posture. Pilates can correct and relieve many areas of stress for people with bad knees.
Find a practitioner in a similar way to yoga - call around to local studios to learn information about classes and instructors. Many Pilates studios frequently offer the same option as yoga studios and allow you to observe and even participate in a free class before making a decision about joining. Individual instructors are also available for private home lessons, though this can be more expensive than yoga depending on where you live. If you're interested in home Pilates lessons, go in with some friends and have your own mini-class - since each person pays a portion of the total price, it costs you far less but still gives you wonderful individual attention.
Well, you say, yoga and Pilates are great for building muscle and strengthening the body but what about burning fat? There is some debate about the aerobic quality of Pilates and yoga practice with most people falling on the side of a decreased calorie burn. The exception would be Ashtanga yoga, which is very physical and hard on tender knees. Pilates ultimately builds your muscles, though using the Reformer machine can help increase heart rate. Reformers are still relatively rare in gyms and studios, and the cost is prohibitive for individuals, so it seems like it is back to square one. The solution is simple: start swimming! Swimming laps is a wonderful workout for everyone but especially for people with arthritis and tender joints because the water supports the body and decreases the pressure on the frame in favor of working the muscles and cardiovascular system. Add three days of thirty-minute swim workouts to your schedule and see the fat disappear while your muscles become strong and beautiful