Top 8 Best Low-Impact Cardio Exercise Machines for Bad Knees

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The majority of the exercise that results in weight and fitness maintenance involves using the lower body. Some most common exercises like running, biking, or jogging are excellent cardio workouts that strengthen your heart and improve your lung capacity. But it would be a frustrating thing if you have joint problems.

The knees are often under a lot of stress due to your weight and the added load of the exercises. It becomes harder to perform the cardio exercise when you run into knee pain.

But having a bad knee doesn’t mean you can do regular cardio exercise. With a piece of low-impact exercise equipment, you will also get all the benefits of cardio exercises without knee pain.

In a hurry? Here are our top 8 picks of the best cardio exercise machines for bad knees:

See the overview, pros & cons below.

What Cardio Exercise Machines Best for Bad Knees?

Certain cardio machines offer low-impact exercises for those who have bad knees. It is advisable to understand the designs and benefits of these machines, which will help you choose and exercise accordingly for a safe and healthy workout regime.

#1. Recumbent Bikes

Recumbent bikes are one of the best low-impact exercise equipment for people who have lower back and knee issues. The major reason for this is the upright support extended by these bikes for the lower body, making it perfect for low impact yet intense workouts for users with knees problem.

Moreover, there is no accumulation of stresses through proper cushioning that can cause spine problems or muscle spasms. And your legs are always in an outright position and do not get stressed unless you exert in the wrong way.

#2. Treadmills

One of the major advantages that treadmills offer is the flexibility and the capacity to absorb shocks, making treadmills a great option for people with knees problem.

Most low-impact treadmills have a spring or absorbing action for the right landing of footing. This prevents any undue load on the knees and the thighs and also protects the lower back.

Meanwhile, the cushioned design also stands as a significant advantage over natural running.

#3. Rowing Machines

Rowing machines are a boon when it comes to performing full-body, low-impact exercises. They allow you to control the movement and pace and have little stress on your joints, making them ideal for those who have bad knees and people in recovery or who are new to exercise.

#4. Elliptical Training Machines

A prominent name among the best cardio machines for bad knees would be elliptical machines. The main reason for this is that elliptical machines have a design to translate the motion smoothly from the thighs to the other half of the lower body.

Moreover, the design also has the feature of smartly compensating for adjustable resistance for every user.

How to Choose the Best Low-Impact Cardio Exercise Machines for Bad Knees?

To exercise efficiently without causing any pain or damage to the knees, smart choices are important. For example, the body’s position, the design of the low-impact fitness machine, safety features, etc., are all-inclusive in this choice.

Meanwhile, certain highlighted points prevail significantly over the other ones for a healthy and safe workout.

#1. Multiple Resistance Levels

Resistance level decides the amount of input a person has to give into a workout regime. Moreover, the design used to create the resistance is also significant to determine the utility.

For instance, magnetic models are the smoothest of the lot and do not cause any jerk or abrupt shocks. However, with air resistance, there can be chances of shock loading. The right design with the right resistance setting can work miracles for the perfect workout without damaging the knees.

#2. Recumbent Bikes or Ordinary Trainers

When it comes to problems like arthritis or other similar issues, recumbent bikes are the answer. The upright ones tend to support the lower frame as well, but the back support is much lower. Recumbent bikes provide a firm footing, ample leg space, and adjustable resistance settings.

#3. Foot Grip

The foot grip plays an extremely important role in deciding the fitness machine’s ability to deal with bad knees. Treaded design with proper foot straps is often the right choice for people who suffer from foot or knee pain.

The nature of the such design ensures the safety and steadiness of the footing. Moreover, the design can also keep the foot position upright without causing any pain in the hips or back.

#4. Back Support and Leg Space

The idea is simple: to accommodate the leg space nicely without exerting any pressure on the back. This is done by providing perfect cushioning and support for the foot arch and seating space to house the lower body. Modern-day cardio and training machines always take care of this factor to help out all types of users.

Top 8 Best Cardio Exercise Machines for Bad Knees

#1. Marcy Recumbent Exercise Bike ME-709

Marcy Recumbent Exercise Bike with Resistance ME-709

The Marcy Recumbent Exercise Bike has various resistance levels at its disposal for all kinds of users. Its design is made to ensure the right combination of comfort as well as enthusiasm for fitness.

The main highlight of the design is the amount of back support extended through the backrest and the seat’s softness.

The cushioning effect makes sure that no extra load goes through to the back and hips. Moreover, the paddles are counter-balanced, and there is enough leg space, which is designed to ensure no bounce back from the footing along with optimum support.

The electronic dial and meter for cardio readings will provide an accurate and clear depiction of exercise data.

Meanwhile, the armrest and hand support parallel to the sea also ensures no pain in the elbow or limbs and the right body posture.


  • Ample cushioning along with perfect hip support
  • The right amount of back support
  • Accurate readings on-screen and easy-use keys
  • Hand rest with grip for right support and rest


  • Moderate resistance levels
  • No front or dual handle design

#2. Schwinn Recumbent Bike 100515

Schwinn Fitness 270 Recumbent Bike

With perfect back support, the Schwinn Recumbent Bike 100515 ranks among the best low-impact aerobic exercise machines for the elderly.

Its design incorporates an elaborate panel upfront, which has easy keys and a digital display. The handles are designed to provide the right amount of rest and support to the users.

Schwinn 100515 is lightweight and easy to move around, along with a footing design that provides perfect traction.

The product has pre-loaded workout programs for the ease of users. Better connectivity and support features make it a match-winner.


  • Intelligent features for connectivity and easy usage
  • Bright panel along with the right amount of automation
  • Proper use of backrest for users across ages
  • Sufficient and adjustable leg space for every user
  • Proper design and strapping for the pedals


  • Rigid handles
  • Little bulky to use in restricted spaces

#3. Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine

Concept2 RowErg Indoor Rowing Machine - PM5 Monitor, Device Holder,

The Concept2 Model D rowing machine has the essential features of a perfect indoor rowing machine for people with pain or joint issues. The intelligent use of dampers to provide air resistance means that the design is perfectly fit for fluctuating usage.

The seating is flexible and provides an easy slide option for a wholesome workout for the entire body.

The digital monitor has all the essential readings and stays right in the line of sight of the user. It takes two simple cells to power the unit with no external power source needed.

The product also provides easy connectivity options for its user to connect to Android and iOS devices for fitness data readings.


  • Easy connectivity to every major cell phone device through the panel
  • State-of-the-art ergometer for perfect health readings
  • Adjustable air damping for varying the resistance through airflow onto the flywheel
  • Smooth glide design for the seat to incorporate full-body exercise


  • Little heavy to be handled by a light person
  • A bit tricky to accommodate in tight spaces and corners

#4. Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Rowing Machine SF-RW5515

Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Rowing Machine Rower with 8-Level

This magnetic rowing machine is suitable for users of all fitness levels. It is also provided with a slide rail that is 44 inches in terms of the in-seam length for the seat to slide across, meaning that this rowing machine will provide the perfect exercise for the entire body without any load onto the knees and other joints.

You can easily adjust the resistance level through a simple knob turn. An elaborate digital monitor in the front is perfect for the users to monitor their workout data.

The seat is cushioned for better support to your back. This SF-RW5515 rowing machine also has secure foot strapping for comfortable and continuous movement.


  • Perfect grip through handlebars that have rubber or foam grip
  • Smart slide rail design for ease of use and wholesome workout
  • No need for a heavy external power source
  • It can be moved and stored horizontally with the help of movement wheels


  • Meter design is relatively simple

#5. ProForm Endurance 920E Elliptical

ProForm Endurance 920 E Elliptical

ProForm is one of the elliptical trainers’ pioneers, and ProForm Endurance 920E is no exception. The elliptical machine is extremely stable. It is a front-drive elliptical machine that provides you with a smoother movement instinct to avoid any injury.

The paddle length extends in a decent way and does not interrupt simultaneous activities. This low-impact elliptical machine also has multiple handle orientations for a comfortable grip and full-body exercise options.

Moreover, intelligent sensors are incorporated into the handle and offer a highly interactive panel for heart rate, pulse, and other workout data monitoring.


  • Spacious foot pedal design with secure strapping
  • Intelligent and interactive screen packed with features
  • Sensors for judgment and display of physical data
  • Multiple handle configurations for loaded workout sessions
  • Multiple resistance levels


  • Bulky to move around
  • The panel can be a bit tricky to familiarize with

#6. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E902 Elliptical Machine

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E902 Air Walk Trainer Elliptical Machine

The SF-E902 is a low-impact elliptical trainer for bad knees produced by Sunny Health and Fitness. The frame of the body is made out of solid metal but is not heavy at all, weighing under 16 kg. The lightweight design and adjustable resistance levels make this an easy machine to fit into the home gym and office.

Although lightweight, it can support a maximum user weight of 220 lbs. The stride length of this budget elliptical machine is 30 inches, which is available to provide a full range of motions for most people, especially tall users.

Also, the panel is straightforward to understand and use. You can track your workout time, stride number, calories burnt, and other workout data easily. But there is no pulse rate monitor on this model.


  • Lightweight and easy to move around even by a single person
  • Adjustable configuration for every user
  • Easy design with no loose parts that can be vulnerable
  • The bottom footing is provided with a secure foot design for perfect traction


  • You cannot adjust the resistance levels

#7. XTERRA Fitness TR150 Folding Treadmill Black

XTERRA Fitness TR150 Folding Treadmill

The XTERRA Fitness TR150 is a budget-friendly folding treadmill for people who are also dealing with arthritis or similar issues. The cushioning system (XTRASoft) of this treadmill is excellent.

It consists of three shock absorption elements on each side of the deck and can reduce up to 20% of the impact to your joints, resulting in a comfortable running experience and helping users to keep an upright posture.

The console is simple to use and can be efficiently used to change the resistance and running speed. Xterra TR150 folding treadmill offers a maximum running speed of 10 mph and 3 manual incline systems.


  • It can be stored in the vertically upright position after folding
  • Sturdy construction for walking and running
  • Easy resistance and other adjustment features for varying use
  • Treaded design for proper footing on the bottom to avoid any mishaps


  • No backlight on the console
  • The weight capacity is only 250 lbs

#8. NordicTrack T6Si Treadmills

NordicTrack T Series Treadmills (6.5S, 6.5Si, 7.5S, 8.5S, 9.5S Models)

The NordicTrack T6Si is a budget-friendly, compact, and high-end treadmill. This low-impact running machine has FlexSelect cushioning that adds extra support to your joints for a lower-impact workout. When you turned it off, you can mimic outdoor road running. But it is better to turn it on if you have bad knees.

It also features a 10” HD touchscreen display. The connectivity feature also provides thousands of options for interactive runs across the globe, synced with Google Maps.  And the incline will automatically adjust when your terrain takes a dip or does a climb.


  • Easy storage and transport through medium-eight design
  • Sensors incorporated on handles for body parameters
  • Connectivity features to work out with other people
  • Highly absorbing design for people with a history of back and knee


  • Shorter handles
  • Lesser number of intermediate resistance levels

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