How To Get Your Heart Rate Going Even When You’re Injured

By now, most of us are aware of how important cardiovascular exercise is and the benefits it provides us. Despite good intentions, sometimes injuries can get in our way. Fortunately, there are many ways you can incorporate cardiovascular activities even when you’re injured, and it is important to do so! Often our overall activity decreases when we are injured, so we need to find ways to keep moving. Physical activity can also help reduce some of the stress that comes with dealing with an injury. This can also be a great opportunity to try a new activity. Here are some examples:

Low impact activities

Knee, hip and ankle injuries, such as osteoarthritis, often require you to focus on lower-impact activities. These activities are less jarring on joints but still provide gentle joint movement which encourages blood flow, joint lubrication and pain relief, as well as increasing your heart rate.


Stationary Cycling: A great option for both upper and lower body injuries. It is low impact and gentle on the knees and ankles. It can also often be done even if you are wearing an air cast. Stationary bikes come in a variety of set-ups so you can usually find a machine that will work for you. For example, upright bikes are a good option if you are experiencing neck or shoulder pain. Recumbent bikes are often a good fit if you are experiencing low back pain. Adding resistance when biking is an easy way to increase your heart rate. Resistance causes the large leg muscles to need more blood flow, resulting in an increased heart rate to meet the increased demand from the legs.

Ellipticals and Rowing Machines: Two other low-impact options for cardiovascular activity. Both have the added benefit of working other muscle groups at the same time; the more muscles working the higher your heart rate. Ellipticals involve arm movements as well as leg movements, and rowing machines are a full-body exercise

Swimming: Water activities can be a great exercise choice for many types of injuries. Water activities are especially low impact due to the buoyancy of water. Water also adds resistance in every direction, giving your muscles a bit of extra strength training. Because swimming does not involve pressure on the feet, it is a good option if you’re dealing with a foot injury. Types of water activities include swimming, treading water, water walking and water aerobics. Due to the unique forces of a whip kick, caution should be used with this technique if you are dealing with a knee injury.

Arm Ergometer: One cardiovascular machine that does not involve the lower body at all is the arm ergometer. This makes it an excellent option for individuals who cannot tolerate any stress through the hips, knees or ankles. Not only can it be used to get your heart rate up but it is a great upper body endurance exercise.

Walking: For many people, walking is still possible, despite the injury. While it may not be quite as easy to get your heart rate up while walking when compared to running, it is still possible! Increasing your pace or adding in hills or trails can very quickly increase your heart rate. You can also add walking sticks to get your arms involved too! 

Resistance Training Circuits: One form of cardiovascular exercise that may not quickly come to mind are resistance training circuits. Circuit training involves completing a number of different exercises with little-to-no rest in between. Completing these exercises with little rest quickly increases your heart rate. Pick 4+ exercises that don’t involve the injured joint or area and complete a few rounds of the circuit. Don’t let yourself be sidelined by an injury. Contact me today so we can get you moving safely in a way that best aligns with your individual needs

Crystal Bartkowski
Certified Athletic Therapist

Return to Article Library

Book a Consult
  • Schedule
    your complimentary

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.