If you've had a knee injury or have weak joints, you can still work out and burn off belly fat without putting stress on your knees. Some exercises, like certain strength training, Pilates and yoga exercises, require little to no knee movement. Other exercises, like walking, swimming and certain other strength training exercises, activate your knee's muscles but don't put stress on the joints.
Losing Your Belly Fat
You can't get rid of belly fat in isolation; you need to lose fat all over in order to lose a belly. You burn off fat by expending calories. When you expend more calories than you consume, you lose weight. Cardio exercises are generally the fastest calorie burners. Make sure you do low-impact cardio exercises to avoid straining your knees. Strength training also burns calories, especially in the long-term because it boosts your metabolism -- the more muscle mass you have, the faster you burn calories.
High-impact cardio exercises, like jogging, running, dancing and jumping rope, put extra weight on your knees, which can stress your knee joints. Low-impact cardio exercises still get your heart rate up and burn calories without stressing your knees. The elliptical machine, stair climbing machine and the rowing machine are some low-impact cardio workout machines you can find at the gym. Walking and swimming are also low-impact. A one-hour low-impact aerobics class burns about 365 calories for a 160-pound person, and a one-hour water aerobics class burns 402. To lose weight, get five hours of cardio exercise spread throughout each week, broken into 10- to 60-minute workouts.
Do a wide variety of strength training exercises that work all your muscle groups, including exercises with free weights, machine weights and using your own bodyweight. Do crunches and planks for your abs, so you'll have muscle showing through as your belly fat disappears. For your arms and shoulders, lift weights doing bicep curls, dumbbell flys and overhead presses, and do pushups and pull ups. Avoid leg exercises that put strain on the knee joints, like squats and lunges. Instead, do lying leg lifts, standing or lying hamstring curls and calf raises. Strength train at least two times a week.
Pilates and Yoga
A 50-minute yoga class can burn around 145 to 250 calories. A 50-minute beginner's Pilates class can burn about 175 calories, and an advanced class up to 375. Though Pilates and yoga don't burn as many calories as a cardio workout, they can benefit both your weight loss program and your knees. Many Pilates exercises and yoga poses are done in seated or lying positions with little or no knee movement. Just avoid any squat, lunge or other position that may cause knee strain. Pilates and yoga both help you prevent knee injuries by improving flexibility, building muscle, and improving balance and coordination. Pilates particularly focuses on your abs and effectively strengthens them with a variety of exercises to make you swimsuit-ready.
- Photo Credit Adam Pretty/Lifesize/Getty Images