Staying Active

Ideally, a knee replacement is your ticket to a more active and healthy lifestyle. Once you’ve recovered sufficiently, you can return to many activities that were too painful and difficult prior to the surgery. These activities will also help you strengthen your knee and increase the odds that it will function effectively for many years. In most cases, you can resume the following activities after about 12 weeks.

Here are a few examples of low-impact activities and sports that you should be able to do not too long after surgery. Be sure to check with your doctor before engaging in any sport or activity.

Walking

Walking is one of the best exercises you can do to build up strength in your knee. It’s also a good way to burn calories while benefiting your heart. Start with smaller steps and shorter walks as you work your way up to longer distances. Timing your walks and tracking your performance is one way to make it more challenging and gauge your progress.

Swimming

Because swimming is not a weight-bearing activity, it’s a great way to exercise without putting stress on your artificial knee. Many knee replacement patients can resume swimming within 3-6 weeks of surgery. Check with your physician or physical therapist before diving into the pool.

Golf

The golf course provides a good way to walk and exercise various muscles in both your lower and upper body. Avoid wearing spikes that could get caught in the ground and make sure you maintain good balance when you hit the ball. Spend adequate time warming up at the driving range, and use a golf cart once you hit the course. If you experience any problems, call the round off and consult your doctor.

Yoga

Gentle stretching is a great way to avoid stiffness, improve your flexibility, and boost the overall health of your knee. However, it’s important to pay particular attention to twisting movements and it's critical to protect your knees by keeping them aligned with the hips and ankles. Before you start, talk with your yoga instructor so she's aware of your limitations. This will help prevent extra strain on your knee. If you feel any knee pain, modify the exercise or consider taking a break. 

Doubles Tennis

Because doubles tennis requires less movement than singles, it’s a good way to exercise without placing undue stress on your knee. In most cases, you can begin playing tennis six months following surgery. Be sure to keep it low impact and avoid running. 

Rowing

Because rowing provides a good upper body and heart workout and places minimal stress on the knees, consider including it in your workout regimen. Make sure you adjust the seat on the machine so that your knees are bent 90 degrees or more. 

Weightlifting

Incorporating a strength program into your workout regimen can pay dividends. Lifting moderate weights helps build strength and diminish knee pain. What’s more, bones grow and become stronger with resistance training. Use weights that are appropriate to your size and strength. Check with your doctor before engaging in a weightlifting program. If necessary, consult with your physical therapist or a trainer to map out a regimen.

Cycling

There are few better ways to regain strength in your knee than cycling. Whether you use an actual bicycle or an exercise machine, stay on a flat surface and increase your distance slowly. As with walking, you can time yourself and track the activity in order to make it more challenging.

Calisthenics

These basic exercises—which rely on simple, rhythmical movements—help build up strength while increasing flexibility. These include crunches, push-ups, and lunges. Also consider gentle aerobics.  These classes are available at most gyms. Just make sure you skip any high-impact exercises.

Elliptical Machines

These machines can provide a good workout without placing undue stress on the knees. Similar to cycling, you knees move in a circular motion, which means you can go for longer distances. An elliptical is a great alternative to running because you can move faster than walking without the impact.

Bowling

It’s generally safe to bowl after knee replacement surgery, though it’s wise to check with your doctor and, if you experience pain while bowling, avoid the activity. You may want to consider using a lighter ball in order to reduce stress to your knee.

Dancing

Ballroom dancing and gentle modern dancing are great ways to exercise. In fact, they’re a good way to use leg muscles and engage in light aerobic activity. Avoid twisting and abrupt movements that could get your knee out of alignment.