5 Cardio Exercises that are Easy on Your Joints

Get your heartbeat up while giving your joints a rest with these exercises.


By Lauren M


Exercising is a vital component of a healthy lifestyle. What happens, however, when your joints begin to ache and exercising becomes painful? Perhaps it is due to an injury, or simply deteriorating bones that come with an aging body. Regardless of the circumstances, exercising regularly while experiencing joint pain can often cause more harm than good. Some exercises place added stress on your joints, while others are excellent alternatives that serve as amazing cardio workouts that are easy on the joints. Here are 5 fantastic examples of low impact cardio exercises:

Water exercises

Swimming is perhaps the BEST exercise when wanting to go easy on your joints. The buoyancy of the water enables the body to get a cardio workout without feeling the stress of feet hitting the pavement. Swimming laps and even treading water can burn calories quickly, while also providing a good workout for the heart.

Many aquatic centers also offer water aerobics or aqua Zumba that further facilitate low impact body movement in the water, and also are great alternatives for people with arthritis or fragile joints.

Elliptical machine

The elliptical machine is a great alternative to the treadmill. A major reason for this is the continuous contact the feet have with the machine. The exercise motion is fluid on the joints while using the elliptical, as opposed to the rough continuous impact that the treadmill demands. A high level of cardio activity can be obtained, while simultaneously taking it easy on a person’s ankles and knees, in particular. The elliptical machine also promotes fluid motions for the upper body as well.


Much like the elliptical, cycling promotes the continuous cyclical motion that gives a rest to the joints in a person’s lower extremities. Cycling is also great because the intensity of the cardio workout can be adjusted by the choice in terrain a person decides to traverse.

Cycling also offers a stationary bike option which is even less stressful on a person’s joints due to a consistent, uniform pattern as opposed to the hills and valleys of normal cycling.


These two activities are great cardio workouts that primarily benefit the upper body. With both rowing and kayaking, a participant is able to feel the burn from a continuous motion of rowing with an oar or paddle, instead of a typical upper body workout that places heavy stress on the joints by requiring a person to shoulder a significant amount of weight. The circular motion of rowing and paddling eases tension on the joints and focuses on a person’s cardio endurance rather than a single maximum exertion that would place heavy stress on the body’s joints. Like cycling, rowing also offers a stationary machine that is found in many workout facilities.


Believe it or not, what you see on Dancing with the Stars is a major cardio workout! The good news is that you don’t need to be a professional to be able to dance and feel a cardio burn take place. There are many forms of dance that are relatively easy on a person’s joints that still promote a high-energy cardio workout.

Many modern forms of dance—such as hip hop, Zumba, and cardio barre—are very high intensity and promote a wide range of motion that places more stress on the muscles than the joints. Other more traditional forms of dance—such as square/line dancing, salsa, and contra—also promote continuous movement and are easy on the joints. It’s always good to remember that even an activity as simple as walking is a good cardio exercise that’s easy on joint pressure, so spicing things up with a little dancing should only add to the “fun” factor and will still contribute to a healthy cardio workout that won’t destroy your ankles, knees or shoulders.

Main Photo Credit: wavebreakmedia/; Second Photo Credit: Jacob Lund/; Third Photo Credit: Undrey/; Fourth Photo Credit: Iakov Filimonov/

Dec 4, 2019

Great! I use dancing to warm up for a few minutes before any workout at home.

Nov 11, 2020

Excellent... Dancing🙌🏽

Nov 22, 2020

🙌🏾👏🏾 🙌🏾👏🏾