Many factors can affect the appearance of your knees. Extra weight, sagging skin related to aging or recent weight loss, and decreased muscle tone from inactivity or injury can all affect the appearance of the knee area.

While no specific technique can target knee fat alone, there are ways you can lose fat throughout your body and many exercises that will help improve the function and muscle tone of your legs, and therefore your knees.

Losing weight is one of the keys to more shapely legs and may even help prevent or relieve knee pain. This not only includes practicing a combination of cardiovascular and strength-training exercises, but also eating a healthy diet.

By reducing body fat overall, you can help slim your knee area, too. No single exercise can spot-treat fat in the knee area or any other individual area of the body.

Both running and jogging are great for burning calories. They also work your legs a bit harder compared to walking and may help strengthen the front area around your knees.

However, according to a study on running and weight loss, short bursts of running may be more effective for burning fat than long-distance races.

Before getting started, ask your doctor or trainer about knee stretches you can do to help warm up your body to prevent injuries during your run.

Riding a bike is considered a cardiovascular exercise that’s good for your heart and overall endurance, but its emphasis on the use of your legs also provides great toning potential. This includes your quads, thighs, and calves, which will in turn tone your knee areas, too.

Biking is also a good low-impact alternative to running, especially if you’re dealing with any knee pain or preexisting leg injury.

There are two ways you can ride a bike to maximize the toning benefits: interval or long-distance training. The first emphasizes intervals of fast and regular paces, while the latter maintains the same speed for a longer period of time.

You can ride a bike outdoors or a stationary bike at your gym.

Lunges target the front muscles in your legs, better known as your quadriceps. When you strengthen and tone these muscles, this can tighten your entire legs over time, including the knee area and the glutes.

A traditional lunge is performed by stepping one leg forward in a 90-degree angle, keeping your upper body straight. You can alternate your legs until you’ve done 10 on each leg. Over time, you can increase the reps or hold a pair of dumbbells for added resistance.

Squats also target the quadriceps, which makes them another great exercise to help tone your legs. (As a bonus, squats are also helpful for toning up your glutes, too.)

Squats are done by standing at least shoulder-width apart and lowering your body down with a straight back toward the floor, as if you’re trying to sit in a chair. Start with 12 squats in a set and build up to more as your legs and glutes get stronger.

Jumping rope is another high-calorie burner that can tone and strengthen your legs (not to mention your heart).

The biggest key to jumping rope is your technique, not your speed. Concentrate on jumping with your knees slightly bent so that you don’t hurt your joints when landing. Also, choose rubber surfaces over concrete or asphalt.

Since jumping rope is a high-impact exercise, just a few minutes at a time is best for your knee joints. You can do this exercise as part of a circuit training program or even as a warmup for lifting weights or doing other strength-training exercises (such as the lunges and squats above).

When it comes to reducing body fat and toning your lower-body muscles, a good old-fashioned walk might just do the trick. Walking has numerous health benefits, and it’s also low-impact and affordable.

A 2000 study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition noted walking’s impacts on thigh reduction in postmenopausal women when combined with a healthy diet. Other research has also found walking can contribute to greater knee strength overall.

Exercise, combined with a healthy diet, is the best way to get rid of body fat. But if you’re not seeing results in your knee area, you might consider talking to your doctor about surgical options. Some of the possibilities include:

No matter which options you choose for knee fat, it’s important to keep in mind that it takes time and persistence to get rid of body fat from any area of your body.

The knees are arguably even more challenging unless you’re already super active — sitting down for work or play can increase your risk for accumulating excess fat in this area. Women of any physical condition are also more prone to fat accumulation in areas of the body including the knees, hips, glutes, and abdomen.

Strengthening your leg muscles also goes beyond aesthetics. The more you strengthen your legs, the less knee pain you may experience over time. One study published in Clinical Rheumatology found a higher incidence in knee pain in women with osteoarthritis who also had lower muscle masses.

It’s also important to consider your overall knee health. While you may want to get rid of knee fat, you don’t want to hurt your knees, either. There are many ways you can help protect your knees during exercise.

Protect knees during exercise

  • Wear shoes that are designed for the activity you’re doing (running shoes for running, cross-trainers for circuit training, etc.).
  • Perform high-impact exercises on soft surfaces only.
  • Bend your knees, but don’t let them go past your toes.
  • Rest when you need to, especially if your knees start hurting.
  • Take a day off between exercises (for example, you can alternate between cardio and leg-strengthening workouts).
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With exercise and an overall healthy lifestyle, it’s possible to rid of excess body fat on your own at home.

Since fat loss isn’t targeted, know that this can take time. As your overall body fat decreases, so will the excess weight in your knees. You’ll also reduce your risk of weight and inflammation-related joint diseases, such as arthritis.

If you’re not seeing results at home, consider talking to your doctor for ideas about diet or exercise, or targeted procedures to tone your knees.