There are many different habits and workouts you can do to improve your life. What about doing high knees, what benefits can you expect?
High knees are a type of bodyweight exercise that comes down to running in place while lifting your knees high with each step. They are a convenient way to work out a wide variety of muscles at home without any equipment.
Make sure you pay attention to using the right technique to avoid any injuries.
Some people question how useful this exercise can be but adding high knees to your routine can offer you some of the following amazing benefits.
1. Stronger muscles
While doing high knees is mainly a cardio exercise, which means that it mostly focuses on your cardiovascular system, this workout also helps you build some muscle in other areas.
Extra muscle is not only beneficial for your health in many ways but it is also considered to be visually appealing.
Some of the muscles you work out with high knees include:
- Hip flexors
If you like the idea of building muscle while doing high knees you can wear weighted ankle bands to increase the amount of muscle mass you gain.
If you are serious about building muscle you do generally want to choose weight lifting exercises over high knees.
2. Stronger immune system
Your immune system is a collection of biological processes that protects you from diseases.
You do have to keep in mind that at some point working out can turn into overtraining which can weaken immune function.
3. Can help with losing weight
Losing weight is about using up body fat, which is basically energy stored. To do this you want to make sure that you require more energy throughout the day than there is coming in from food.
One way to try to make this happen is by doing a workout. By increasing the intensity of your movements for a period of time you use up more energy than usual. Doing high knees can help with weight loss since doing a workout like it generally requires more energy than most of your usual daily activities.
30 minutes doing high knees can help you burn around 177-305+ calories depending on weight, intensity, and much more. If you want to learn how to burn more calories while doing high knees make sure you read the article on how many calories high knees burn.
Although the extra calorie burning from doing high knees is often welcome when trying to lose weight, compared to running for example that number is not that big. If you’re serious about burning a lot of extra calories other workouts than high knees can be a better choice.
Keep in mind that other lifestyle habits like what you eat are important when trying to lose weight no matter what exercise you do. You can work out and gain weight at the same time if your other lifestyle habits are not good.
4. Improved mood
Most people are not always completely aware of it but the physical health of the human body has a big influence on the mood and thoughts of the individual.
Doing high knees doesn’t just help with this by improving general health. There are inevitably many different reasons involved but one reason why exercises like high knees benefit mental health is that they promote the release of endorphins, “feel-good” hormones (6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11).
Besides the actual physiological changes doing high knees will cause, you will likely also have positive feelings about having done something challenging that’s good for you.
5. Improved cardiovascular health
Your cardiovascular system is the circulatory system inside of your body and includes heart and blood vessels. These transport many types of important nutrients, oxygen, and waste throughout your body.
When you move more intensely your body needs to transport these things, which means using your heart, at a higher rate.
Your heart is a muscle that can be trained by using it more intensely. By doing workouts like a high knees session you can strengthen your cardiovascular system which in turn leads to a wide variety of other benefits (12, 13, 14, 15, 16).
Do keep in mind that muscles can get injured. If you have not done any physical activity in a long time you may want to start out with low-intensity movements and build up from there.
6. You can do high knees anywhere
A downside of many exercises is that they need you to be in a specific location, or use specific equipment that you generally don’t have at home.
This makes it so you often have to drive, cycle, or walk somewhere for a while. Let’s say you exercise twice a week and going to your workout takes 10 minutes to get there and 10 minutes to go back. That’s 40 minutes less free time per week.
This extra transportation also makes it easier to say no to your workout. Being able to be consistent is key for a good workout plan.
However, with high knees you don’t have to worry about these things. You can do them as good as anywhere. All you need is a few blocks of free time throughout the day and you can get in a high knee workout.
7. Budget-friendly workout
Another potential hurdle for many workouts is the budget required.
Some exercises require inexpensive equipment starting at a jumping rope to at-home workout machines of hundreds or thousands of dollars. Even the investment required for gym subscriptions adds up after a while.
Money put into improving your health is generally a great investment but sometimes you can get the same effects with less. In the case of high knees you don’t need to invest any budget at all. This can be a great benefit depending on your personal situation.
8. Improved cognitive function
Another benefit of exercises like doing high knees is that they can help you improve your cognitive function in a few ways. First of all, they can help with the prevention of diseases like Alzheimer’s disease (17).
Another way working out benefits cognitive function is by improving brain plasticity (18, 19, 20). Better brain plasticity basically means that you are able to learn things faster, see the connection between things faster, and remember things better.
That means that adding a high knee workout to your routine can benefit you by improving areas like your academic performance, job performance, and much more.
9. No complicated technique required
Some machines and workouts almost require a university degree before you can use them optimally. For example some kettlebell workouts or something like dancing can be slightly more complicated to get started with.
When trying to stick to an exercise routine you want to be able to start as soon as possible and as few reasons as possible to not work out.
You do want to pay some attention to your posture, keeping your back straight, when starting out but high knees are generally a simple workout when it comes to technique.
10. Improved bone density
This is helpful for avoiding broken bones. Depending on your age you may not be that worried about something like this right now. However, exercising right now can help you avoid broken bones in 40 years. The things you do today have an impact on the future.
The way many parts of your body work is that by challenging them you set in motion processes that strengthen these body parts. The same goes for your bones, by putting pressure on them you make them stronger in the long-term.
High knees is a great exercise for improving bone density. With other workouts like swimming, golf, and cycling you generally put less pressure on your bones than with high knees.
11. Lowers LDL
LDL, also known as low-density lipoproteins, is considered to be “bad” cholesterol since there are negative side effects associated with having high levels of LDL in your blood.
12. Healthier lungs
To move around your body needs oxygen, the more intensely the more oxygen. Your body absorbs oxygen from the air through your lungs.
By using your lungs more, thanks to workouts like doing high knees, you can improve how well they work (31, 32, 33, 34, 35). Generally the more intense your high knee workout the more it benefits your lung capacity.
Improving how well your lungs function leads to benefits like improved exercise performance and getting tired slower.
13. Slows down aging
Most people think of age as the number of days, months, and years that have passed since the day they were born, this is usually referred to as their chronological age. There are also many other ways to measure “age” based on physiological factors (36).
Exercises like doing high knees obviously won’t have an influence on the number of days that have passed since you were born. However, physical activity can slow down the aging in terms of how fast other measurement methods progress (37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42).
In general these other age measurements are more accurate methods than chronological age for assessing risk on age-related diseases. Slowing these down can be a huge benefit for your health.
14. Helps against type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a disease that involves consequences like high blood sugar, insulin resistance, and lack of insulin. These things in turn can have really bad consequences so type 2 diabetes is definitely something you want to avoid.
15. Improves sleep
Good quality and duration sleep are extremely important for your physical health and cognitive function. Unfortunately, many people can do a lot better with both quality and duration.
A lot of the things you do throughout the day influence the quality and duration in some way. One of the things that can benefit sleep a relatively high amount is doing a workout like high knees (48, 49, 50).
You do want to keep in mind that exercising too close to bed time can have the reverse effect and mess with your sleep. Make sure you give your body time enough time to calm down after a workout. For most people this comes down to avoiding exercises at least an hour or two before going to sleep.
16. Regulates blood pressure
Your blood pressure is how much pressure the blood circulating in your blood vessels pushes against the walls of these vessels. This measurement is a popular way to determine how healthy your heart is.
Another benefit of working out, and thus doing high knees, is that it can help you regulate blood pressure (51, 52, 53). This happens because of the influence of a variety of consequences you get from doing high knees including a stronger heart, less stress, expected weight loss, and more.
17. Improves coordination
While the technique of high knees is not that complicated, you do need to use some coordination. By doing this frequently you get better at it like with most skills.
The benefits of improved coordination don’t just show up in other technical sports. Daily activities as simple as walking the stairs require coordination.
While inevitably some workouts are better for some of these benefits than high knees, it is amazing that you can get so many important benefits from adding one activity to your routine.
One thing you need to remember is that doing high knees can be hard on body parts like your knees, especially if you have a lot of pounds to lose. If you are in a situation like that, walking, the elliptical trainer, or swimming may be better workout choices to start with.
Also keep in mind that consistency is a big factor for a workout plan. The more you love the exercise you do the easier it becomes to do it consistently. If doing high knees is a workout you love, great. If not there are plenty of other exercises to consider that can also offer a lot of benefits.