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General Medical Questions
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Question : I would like to get a treadmill, but I am 68 years old. And I have heard exercising on them is hard on the joints. What exercise equipment is least stressful on the joints?
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The Trusted Source
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Howard LeWine, M.D.

Howard LeWine, M.D., is chief editor of Internet Publishing, Harvard Health Publications. He is a clinical instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital. Dr. LeWine has been a primary care internist and teacher of internal medicine since 1978.

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January 27, 2014
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Yes, there will be a greater force on your knees and hips while running on a treadmill compared to other exercises.

If you want to increase your aerobic fitness, try swimming or water aerobics. They put the least amount of force on your knees and hips. You also get a more complete workout since you are using your arms as well as your legs.

Back on land, you will put less stress on your knees and hips by exercising on a stationary bike or elliptical machine. If you choose the bike, be sure your seat is well positioned. Also, don’t ride without any tension on the pedals. You should have enough resistance so that the pedals quickly stop moving if you take your feet off them.

Yoga or Pilates would be a very different path to physical fitness. At first, you likely won’t get as much aerobic training as you would from the other exercises mentioned above. But once you get familiar with the moves, you can.

If running is your passion, try to find a well maintained outdoor track. Or use a treadmill that provides extra cushion.

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