As a single-attempt half-marathon runner (never again), I admire anyone who actually prefers the intensity and endurance of the sport. So when my near-60-year-old dad suddenly picked up a daily running habit, I was impressed, to say the least. That is, until his new exercise routine caused his former leg injury to flare back up—most notably in the knee.
He’s not alone–knee pain is an incredibly common issue, especially considering the weight those joints bear all day long. Whether you’re recovering from a serious injury (looking at you, Dad!), living with arthritis, or your knees simply suffer stress from overuse, deciding how to exercise can be tricky.
While building strength and maintaining flexibility can provide support for your joints, engaging in any workout that causes pain in the knees (such as running), will just keep them inflamed, says ACE-certified trainer Stephanie Thomas, CPT. That doesn’t mean you have to give up cardio forever, though—just opt for one of these five types of exercise, which trainers say are just as effective, but gentler on the joints: