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Dino Answers Your Health Questions: Weight Gain and Knee Pain

By Dino Nowak
Certified Fitness Trainer

Question from a Reader:

I have knee injuries and can't walk very far. I'm only 56 and want to exercise without causing additional pain to my knees. I also need help losing weight in my middle and hips.

Kindest Regards,

Sanford, Florida


Dino Answers:

Hi, Sheila,

I understand your dilemma. Clients come to me and usually want to lose fat in those areas.  Unfortunately, there is no such thing as spot reduction.  People assume that if they exercise a particular body part the fat will melt away from that area, except you’re training the muscle and the fat is just a fuel source.  As you keep losing body fat, eventually you’ll lose it from those areas, but the way your body stores fat is genetically determined.  So the goal is to keep burning those calories. 

Think of it this way.  Your body fat is nothing more than the equivalent of those red gas cans people store in their garages.  In order to tap into that gas, you need to drive the car and use up what’s in the tank already.  It’s the same with your body. You have to use it to expend energy, thus getting your body to tap into your fuel source or body fat.  The trouble is each pound of fat holds 3,500 calories worth of energy, so it takes some effort and time - not to mention you can add calories through eating too much food a lot easier than you can burn them off. 

The most important thing is a little word called consistency.  Make sure you’re eating breakfast and then smaller meals every three hours to get your metabolism revved up.  You cannot starve yourself into shape. All you do is force your body to hold onto all your fat stores because it’s trying to survive.  Work with your body. 

On to the knees, I’m not sure about the extent of your injuries, but there are other activities you can do such as swimming, cycling, and even light walking.  What you want to do is either see a physical therapist or see a certified fitness trainer who has experience working with people with knee injuries.  You can strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee joint, which will reduce the pressure and force on the joint itself. 

Have you ever seen a football player who has blown out his knee only to come back later after physical therapy and focused training to play pro football again?  You can do this, but it’s going to take some work and guidance from someone who knows what they’re doing.  Again, not knowing the extent of your injuries, I would recommend you speak to your doctor.  He or she should be able to give you a sheet with leg exercises that can help you build your knee back up. 

I’ll give you two leg exercises here:

Leg raises - Lie on the floor on your back and bend your right leg.  With your left leg straight, lift it up to the height of your right knee and lower back to the floor slowly under control.  If you can do this and come back up without resting your left leg on the floor in between each lift, even better.  Perform 15-20 repetitions and switch legs.

Leg extension with a towel - Sit on the floor with your right leg bent and your left straight.  Place a rolled up towel under the knee of your left leg that’s straight.  Squeeze the top muscle of that left leg so your heel lifts off the floor. Hold it for five seconds and then lower and repeat 15 times.  Switch legs.

Good luck, and make sure you do something. Don’t let this hold you back.


Dino NowakDino Nowak holds some of the highest levels of certifications with the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Council on Exercise, and the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research. He has advised and trained celebrities in the television, film, and music industries, in addition to those of all ages who have struggled with health and fitness challenges. He is the former general manager of Equinox Fitness in Los Angeles and the author of The Final Makeover: Your 40 Day Guide to Personal Fitness. He has been interviewed by major media outlets. His official Web site is

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