8 excellent workout alternatives for those with injury-prone knees or ankles.

Swimming? Amazing.



“I can’t run anymore,” a friend said to me the other day. “It hurts my body too much. It makes my bad knee worse and I always have pain in my ankles. But I don’t want to give it up, because it’s such a good workout.”

Sound familiar? It probably does. If you’re a runner, you might suffer from all sorts of pain and injuries in various parts of your body – after all, it’s a high-impact exercise that puts a lot of pressure on your joints. And while it’s fantastic for fitness, it can be really damaging if done in excess, or done if you’re already prone to certain injuries.

There are many other types of high-impact exercise – CrossFit, boot camps, team sports such as footy and soccer, interval training, aerobics, Zumba, Body Attack – that are seriously good for increasing your heart rate and getting your fitness up. But they’re also best avoided if you’re pregnant, prone to injury, suffering from chronic problems, or simply new to exercise.

But I have some excellent news for you. You don’t have to do high-impact exercises in order to get a decent workout. In fact, it’s actually highly recommended by fitness professionals that you mix high-impact with low-impact to avoid injury and work out your entire body.

Here are some low-impact exercises to kick you off:

1. Walking

I don’t mean strolling along a boardwalk by the beach, casually sipping a latte. I mean walking relatively quickly, preferably over varied terrain, with hills and such. If you want a bit more of a workout, try wearing a weighted backpack, ankle/wrist weights, or carrying dumbbells.

If you’re still worried about injuries, try walking on a treadmill – it’s even lower impact than walking outside, and you can control the incline.

2. Swimming


I can’t rave about swimming enough. It really is one of the best workouts out there and puts no strain on your body. It is, however, good to have the right technique – so consider taking a refresher lesson if you haven’t had any freestyle tips since you were a kid. Mix it up with a kickboard or a pull buoy if you’re getting bored.

3.. Stand-up paddleboarding

Nat rock-climbing.

Or “supping”, as the trendy people call it (of which I am definitely not one). It looks easy but it is HARD – and great for working on balance, as well as your upper body. However, paddleboards are kind of ridiculously expensive so perhaps hire before committing to buy one. I have a cheap second-hand one which is not really of a distinguishable colour, but it works, so hey, can’t complain.

5. Water workouts

Water aerobics, anyone?! Like I said before – water is excellent and various water workouts, not just swimming, are especially good if you’re recovering from an injury.

6. Gym machines

The elliptical machine, the stair master and the stationary bike are all recommended for those who want a workout without putting too much stress on their limbs.

7. Rock-climbing

Rock-climbing is amazing for working the muscles without straining them. If you’re going indoors, you don’t need any fancy gear either – wear your runners and hire a harness from the rock-climbing place. Start small if you’ve never done it before. There is no shame in the baby wall.

8. Roller-blading

Because we do far too little roller-blading in life once we get past the age of 8. I’m bringing it back.

What low-impact exercises do you do?