It’s cold, maybe even snowing outside. You have a fresh new knee replacement. The doctor says to keep it moving, but it is the middle of winter? As much as you might love it, are there any winter activities to do that are safe for your new knee?
There are many different knee replacement rehab phases—the early stages, six months out, and even years out. Depending on where you are in recovery will, of course, determine which of these 10 Guilt-Free Winter Inspired winter activities you can do, but I tried to add in ideas for all phases of knee rehab, both outdoors and indoors!
Please keep in mind that always follow your surgeons’ and or doctors’ orders before doing any of these activities! Also, take note I live in the midwest, so many of these activities involve needing snow!
Outdoor Winter Activities
Snowshoeing is a sport that has gained popularity again in the last couple of years. I took it up about a year and a half after my knee replacement. I wanted to get outside more in the winter and venture places with too much snow for me to walk. A low impact exercise that is a fantastic cardio workout as well.
The type of snowshoe definitely matters for post knee replacement. Make sure to get ones that have rotating or floating binding to help with foot fatigue. Also light weight aluminum will also help so you arent lugging around too much extra weight.
Cross country skiing
Though this is a no-go for me due to ankle issues on top of a knee replacement, I do not see why people with knee replacements can’t do it, mostly if you did it before! Or if you use to downhill ski, got a knee replacement, and still want to ski in some form, I would definitely try cross country skiing. It’s low impact and a great workout!
Hike the trails (wear right boots or ice treads)
With the proper footwear going out hiking the local trails is a great winter activity for people who have had knee replacements. Make sure not to walk over groomed trails that are for the skiers. Stepping off to the side is the best practice. If the snow is only a few inches deep or less, it’s easy to go hiking. Many of the trails around here are even and on flat ground, with no uneven or rough terrain.
I always make sure to wear higher boots with good ankle support and excellent thick bottom treads. I also have ice grippers if I think that there might be ice under the snow or if the snow has melted and there might be any slick spots on the paved parts of the path. Another great thing to make sure to bring is some walking poles. You never know when you might become off balance, they can help you from falling on that new knee of yours!
Build a snowman
Did the famous lyrics from the favorite movie just pop into your head too? You all just had your Anna moment, didn’t you? Ha! But really, why not build a snowman, right? Think about how much work really goes into it. Plus, you’ll have a cute piece of art that will be in your yard for everyone to see.
Feed and watch the Winter Wildlife
This winter activity works for even the knee replacement warriors early in their knee recovery. You might need help filling some of the bird or squirrel feeders, but you can easily walk to the windows or outside a bit to enjoy the wildlife! My personal favorites are the cardinals; their red really pops with the snowy background. Or owls; they leave some of the most fantastic snow marks!
Indoor Winter Activities
Walk a mall
There aren’t many stores to window shop in malls anymore as outdoor storefronts are the new ways of the world, but many malls, even if mostly vacant, still have open hours. Though not very heated, Malls make great places to walk in the winter, especially if you are still in your early phases of knee replacement rehab—no worrying about ice with this inside winter activity.
Swim laps or join an Aquatic aerobic class at a local pool
Being in the pool is by far my favorite indoor winter activity to keep my knee replacement moving! The water feels so good on all my joints, really! I would recommend joining an aquatic aerobic class if you can make the specific times they are available as it’s a great way to socialize, get your heart pumping and get your knee moving.
Group classes, not your style? Swimming laps will do the trick as well. There are times I love how it’s just me in my lane with my thoughts. Plus, lap swimming is also another great low impact exercise. If you have read some of my other posts you know I swim and work out at my local YMCA, curious where your local YMCA is? Click HERE to start your search!
Bike trainer or treadmill
We all have those days, especially in the midwest, where we just aren’t leaving our house. Hello, snowstorms! These are the days I love to use my treadmill or bike trainer. Early on in my knee rehab recovery, I was one hundred percent bike trainer for this winter activity. Low impact and my bike were meant to be easy on joints. I even hopped on it to work my knee range of motion before I could go all away around!
Now that I’m a year and a half out and trying to become a more avid runner. (I know, crazy thought, right?) I use my treadmill more. I’m lucky enough to have space inside my bedroom to house this equipment, so no freezing in the garage while trying to stay mobile!
Minibike pedal sets while doing a fun winter craft
Here is an enjoyable winter activity to do in the earlier stages of knee rehab. Pedal a minibike pedal set while doing a fun craft. Great to do this with a friend or family member! Check out my winter craft board HERE for some inspiration.
Continue your at-home exercises
My best advice for you is never to throw away those exercises the physical therapist gave you at any point of your knee rehab journey. You will find there are times you might “tweak” your knee and need to rest it for a few days. Bringing out those early knee exercises will be great to start back up after a few days of rest.
Are we using them as a winter activity? Why not! Most of us are probably not as active as we are in the other seasons, so why not take these exercises specific to our knees to keep them healthy and mobile!
Have other winter activities you have been doing to keep your joints moving after knee surgery? Let us hear about them in the comments below!
Until next time have fun and, Take care!
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician.
Want to read my knee replacement story? Start HERE
Curious to see the other Guilt Free Activities Lists? Click HERE!
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