Tips to Stay Fit After Knee Replacement Surgery

by HSS on the Move
Stationary bikes

Congratulations on making it through your recovery from your total knee replacement(s)!  Hopefully, you’ve begun traveling down the road towards the level of wellness you sought by undertaking this type of surgery. To maximize your quality of life and ensure the longevity of your knee(s), it is highly encouraged that you maintain an active lifestyle after you’ve completed your physical therapy.  Davis Reyes, physical therapist, offers tips to help you accomplish this goal:

1. Be safe. There are a wide range of low-impact sports and activities that are safe and recommended for your knee replacement(s), including low impact aerobics, swimming, casual hiking, golf and doubles tennis. Contact your physician or physical therapist for a full listing of activities that are and aren’t recommended.

2. Do what you like. In order to adhere to an exercise regimen, it’s better to find a sport or activity that you enjoy doing. Whether it’s an individual or a group activity, taking part in what makes you happy will ensure that you stay active and conditioned for a longer period of time. It’s good not only for your knees, but also for your overall health.

3. Consistency vs. Quantity. Hopefully, upon discharge from physical therapy, you received a home exercise program or activity guide that you can perform independently or with a group of friends or individuals who’ve undergone the same procedure. It’s important to perform your exercise program a minimum of 3-4 times per week in order to keep the muscles of your legs and your knee(s) flexible and conditioned. One time every week or every other week will not be enough. Exercising for 20-30 minutes 3-4 times per week will be sufficient to keep your knees properly conditioned.

4. Walking is good, biking is better.  Many people prefer the simple of activity of walking in order to maintain the conditioning of their knee(s). This is perfectly fine.  However, consider this: walking utilizes only 75 – 80 degrees of knee motion whereas biking uses a minimum of 110 degrees of knee motion. You have a new knee(s); use it to its maximum potential!  The more range of motion you introduce into your knee(s) with sports or activities, the more you’ll maintain greater flexibility and greater activation of muscle. If you have access to an exercise facility, you can use a stationary bike or recumbent (reclined) bike. Or, if you prefer exploring the outdoors and are safe using a normal bike, that would do as well.

5. No gym necessary. Many people think that they need a gym and access to equipment in order to maintain the conditioning of their knees. This is not true. There are many exercises that can be performed in the comforts of your own home using your own body weight or some extremely affordable equipment such as a physioball. You can ask your physician or general practitioner for a prescription to consult with your local physical therapist, who can develop an individualized home program based on your level of activity if you have not already received one.

6. Stay flexible.  After completing your exercise program, make sure you take some time to stretch your knees.  Maintaining the flexibility of your knees is as important to the conditioning of your knee(s) as strengthening. There are many stretches that will help maintain both your ability to bend and straighten them.  Please consult with your local physical therapist on the various ways and proper forms.

Consult with your physician before starting an exercise regimen. Good luck and have fun!

Topics: Rehabilitation and Fitness
The information provided in this blog by HSS and our affiliated physicians is for general informational and educational purposes, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual problem you may have. This information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a qualified health care provider who is familiar with the unique facts about your condition and medical history. You should always consult your health care provider prior to starting any new treatment, or terminating or changing any ongoing treatment. Every post on this blog is the opinion of the author and may not reflect the official position of HSS. Please contact us if we can be helpful in answering any questions or to arrange for a visit or consult.


Hofmann Institute says:

These are great tips thank you for taking the time to post them.

HSS on the Move says:

Thank you for your reply! We”re glad you found this helpful.

Lancelot says:

I had TKR with Dr. Hass back in November ”13. Its not mid March 2014 and last week I played 9 holes of golf….awesome. Dr. Hass was my surgeon.. tops!

What exercises can you recommend for those of us who want to return to regular golf? What should we avoid?


HSS on the Move says:

Hi Lancelot, thank you for reaching out. In an effort to keep golfers healthy and injury free on and off the course, HSS developed a golf-specific online tool called “Protect Your Game.” To access and share this injury prevention online tool, visit or to enroll in the Golfer’s Performance Program at HSS, visit If you wish to receive care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

Mike says:

Still getting leg cramps after TNR 6/12 and 11/13. Do I need to add something to my exercise program?

HSS on the Move says:

Hi Mike, thank you for reaching out. It is best to consult with your treating physician so they can better advise. If you wish to receive care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

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