Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Pull up a chair and exercise | Health & Fitness11 min read
It’s time to sit in our favorite vessel that tells our body to rest for a brief moment. Schoolwork, emails, office phone calls, texts at lunch or a ride in our cars all require seats, simplifying our everyday lives. Chairs, benches and stools have become an integral part of our lives so we can eat, chat over a meal at lunch, or perform that favorite four-letter word we have a love-hate relationship with: work.
The invention of the chair demonstrates the innovation of our ancestors when devising methods to give humans brief bouts of rest after a laborious day. Our paleolithic relatives built huts, ran from woolly mammoths and harvested food.
Support local news coverage and the people who report it by subscribing to the Napa Valley Register.
They had long days of work on their feet and an abundance of stress hormones coursing through their veins while guessing when the next sabertooth tiger attack would arise. One could imagine a chair would be far superior for a 15-minute break.
Fast forward to our current era. We don’t work in the rock quarries where Fred Flintstone made a living. Instead, a high percentage of the population invests in their favorite ergonomically sound desk chair and rests their back and hip in this comfortable contraption.
People are also reading…
Sure, we can rest our bodies and be productive while sitting and working. However, we enter into threats of abusing the capabilities of our seats. Similar to indulging in too many sweets, wolfing down too many burgers, or having that extra glass of wine at the end of the day, too much of a good thing can be detrimental to our health. We introduce a flood of problems if we sit too much.
Prolonged periods of sitting cause stiff muscles, joints and ligaments. Additionally, inactivity while sitting imposes stress on our cardiovascular system. Our heart doesn’t need to pump as much blood to the working muscles and organs during low physical activity. As a result, significant joints such as the neck, shoulders, spine and hips become prime targets for harmful by-products of inactivity. Six to eight hours a day of sitting works out to be 30 to 40 hours per week, and eventually to 160 hours per month. Over time, that’s a lot of sitting.
A simple and effective solution is to perform exercises while we’re sitting. Completing just one set of 10 repetitions of a few injury prevention exercises on days involving long bouts of sitting significantly reverses the effects of inactivity.
Here are a few exercises that reduce pain, keep joints healthy, and avoid the likelihood of developing underuse injuries from sitting too long:
1. Stand up: Nothing fancy here. Make sure to stand up after a long phone call or after a freshly typed 800-word email. The simple act of frequently standing from sitting reverses our body’s shape while seated.
Remember, sitting isn’t bad, it’s the amount of time we sit in the same position that can be harmful. Once our body remains in one shape where our hips and knees maintain an isometric bend, we develop stiffness and introduce the possibility of atrophy in our muscles surrounding inactive joints.
2. Shoulder retraction: This is a fancy term for pulling the shoulders backward. We hunch forward, producing a figure akin to an angry cat hissing at a dog that has come close to them when typing and performing mouse work at the computer desk.
We’re humans, not cats. So, let’s not look like a quadruped mammal possessing one of the most flexible bodies in the animal kingdom. Our shoulder blades serve the critically important purpose of supporting our thoracic spine.
To perform the shoulder retraction exercise: Sit upright with your armpits lined up over your thighs. Glide your shoulders back and down your rib cage until a slight muscular sensation is experienced in the musculature surrounding your shoulder blades.
Relax, then repeat this motion for a total of 10 repetitions. By strengthening the shoulder blade muscles, we can reinforce the sections of the spine, including the neck and rib cage area. Perform one set of 10 repetitions.
3. Posterior pelvic tilt: The lumbopelvic hip complex is a nerdy-exercise physiologist term describing the section connecting the lower back to the top of the thighs. This is public enemy number one when sitting for too long.
Prolonged hours of stacking the lumbar spine over the sacrum can put excessive force on the fifth lumbar and first sacral vertebrae. Additionally, the gluteal and abdominal muscles become inactive, failing to support the spine’s stability.
To perform a posterior pelvic tilt: Sit upright and roll the crests of your hips toward your ribs. You should feel muscular engagement in your abdominals and glutes. Perform one set of 10 repetitions.
Understanding the threat of sitting too long is essential for preserving our body and functionality as humans. Take a little time to stand up and move around after a long time in a chair. You’ll likely be happier, have less pain, and be more productive.
SAID means “Specific Adaptation to an Imposed Demand” and this includes long hours sitting in an airplane or car. What can you do to help your body out after you get off the plane or out of your car?
Fitness trainer Sean McCawley experienced challenges to his healthy Napa lifestyle on his 10-day trip to Portugal.
Finding time to exercise is challenging but if you can find time to perform one or two exercises first thing in the morning, this can can accomplish simple and effective exercises.
On the run up to a championship match, the foods you choose will make a difference.
What’s for dinner? Before you turn to Door Dash, fitness pro Sean McCawley has a suggestion.
When striving to meet fitness goals, try keeping in mind a growing a plant — both a plant and your body thrive in a nurturing, supportive environment.
Exercising first thing in the morning may sound like a challenge, but the benefits far outweigh the pain of getting out of bed a few minutes earlier.
Rise and shine — or rest in bed? Sean McCawley provides reasons for getting yourself up in the morning.
We don’t realize how vital lower back health is until an accidental injury debilitates us, but exercises can help avoid this calamity.
A long-plane ride, turning your head the wrong way, even sleeping in an odd position, can tweak your back just enough to derail physical activities. The first step in avoiding these injuries, is learning the anatomy of your spine.
We can fall into an unhealthy rut of spending too much time on our phones. Take some time for yourself by stepping away from your cell phone to experience the gifts the world offers us that are right in front of us.
A few popular questions fitness trainer Sean McCawley is asked are: “How many calories should I consume?”, “Are carbs bad?”, “Should I be paleo?” and “What type of protein supplement should I take?”
Staying hydrated is important to overall health, longevity and functionality, writes fitness coach Sean McCawley. So how do you drink enough water each day? He has a plan for you.
If stepping into a gym is as intimidating to you as a walk in Jurassic Park, Sean McCawley has idea to help you overcome your anxiety and give yourself a gift of exercise.
An exercise program of resistance training can significantly increase your body’s ability to build strength in your bones.
From construction worker to desk worker, we all have muscles we don’t use in a typical day. Your can supercharge your fitness by adding exercises that target these areas of the body.
If you struggle adhering to an exercise program, pick out a few keywords of how exercise makes you feel like what you’re doing has value.
Fitness expert Sean McCawley explores why and how to do pushups.
She wanted to lose 10 pounds before a vacation on the beaches of Portugal. Fitness trainer Sean McCawley helped her come up with a plan.
Our spine is akin to a highway in the human body. By engaging in physical activity that keeps the spinal muscles active, we perform proper maintenance on our main freeway of nerves, just as of Cal Trans workers cares for these roads.
Our willpower and perseverance to make a trek to a local gym, take a yoga class or participate in outdoor physical activity are equally, if not more powerful, than any medicine that keeps us away from the doctor’s office.
Crunchy, salty, and sweet treats can provide comfort, joy and salvation from challenging times. We can’t just extract them from our lives on short notice but here are tips to still enjoy them with moderation, accountability and control.
One of the easiest ways to improve your health in 2022 is to be sure you are drinking enough water.
A plan to enjoy 2022 and reach our goals begins with Two great places to start building a good foundation of ensuring we reach our goals in 2022 is to eat the right foods and adhere to a exercise routine.
Napa Valley fitness guru Sean McCawley has suggestions for what to do when your lifestyle has you wound up tight as a violin string.
Finals week — or any week during college — may not be the prime time for thinking about healthy food choices, but Sean McCawley offers some easy-to- make alternatives to one more bowl of instant ramen.
Nutritional advice today can be confusing and often contradictory.
Napa fitness guru Sean McCawley outlines how to use your gardening tasks for a fitness routine worthy of a gym-workout.
Stress has a profound effects on our well-being, but exercising even once or twice a week can also have a profound impact on stress.
Carbohydrates, proteins, and fat are the big three that are predominantly focused on the back of nutrition labels when counting calories.
If you see a rogue candy wrapper left over from trick-or-treaters, bend over and pick it up. Practicing mindfulness of picking up objects from the ground helps mitigate the debilitating effects of back pain while bending over as we progress through life.
We spend so much of our time sitting, including driving to work to get ready to sit some more. Napa fitness coach Sean McCawley suggests exercises you can do in your car to counteract the toll that prolonged sitting takes on the body.
Napa Valley fitness pro Sean McCawley shares thoughts about the importance of continuing to get down and dirty — or at least being sure to include a few bends every day — as we age.
It’s a hassle to regain the strength of our hands if unmaintained over time. Sean McCawley has suggestions to keep yours strong.
Constraints of hours in our demanding schedule is an eternal balancing act. Don’t the let the idea of “I don’t have enough time” hold you back from much needed exercise.
If we don’t have a physically active profession and spend 40-plus hours a week at a desk, we have to find new ways to stay as physically fit as our hard-working ancestors. Becoming a recreational athlete is one of them.
Focusing on the well-being of your hip flexor muscles is a great solution to alleviate common lower back symptoms in which our society struggles with on a daily basis.
You never know how much you use your scapula — aka, your shoulder blade — until it isn’t working well.
Having a goal to work towards can give a boost to striving for health and fitness goals. Sean McCawley shares one success stor.
Do you feel you just don’t have time to exercise? Napa fitness guru Sean McCawley has suggestions for getting around this obstacle to fitness.
If your routines help you feel better throughout your day, keep them going. Sure, scientific data is always going to benefit us but it’s the traditions we practice that make us feel good that scientific data doesn’t necessarily support.
A personal training client showed up sporting new clothes, hairdo, new sunglasses — and a new confidence. What was his secret? A few lifestyle changes.
Fitness guru Sean McCawley urges people to turn off the electronics and enjoy conversations dinner with their families.
Balance can be defined as the ability to correct imbalances. Sean McCawley has an exercise to help this.
Not many of us have the skill and talent of the champion Olympic gymnast Simone Bile, but there are ways to improve our balance.
There’s nothing more frustrating than having to walk at snail speed because of nagging knee pain, but one way to keep your knees healthy is to make sure you do hip-strengthening activities.
We can’t thrive in life when being held up by painful symptoms such as sciatica. Pick exercises that are simple, effective, and easy to replicate on weekly basis to help us live pain free, happy, and strong lives.
What causes the debilitating condition sciatica and can a good exercise routine help mitigate it?
All kinds of emotions can hinder fitness plans. Sean McCawley has ideas for moving ahead to accomplish even the biggest “hairy audacious goals.”
Getting ready to travel again? Make sure to plan ahead for trips with a balanced exercise prescription to ensure your body is strong and injury-free to enjoy these life-changing experiences.
The challenges of pregnancy are many, but understanding that the body can still benefit from a structured fitness routine throughout pregnancy helps the body ride through the mental, physical and emotional undertow.
Weight management is challenging. As we age, our metabolism decreases. However, the advancement of our age and the slowing of our metabolism is usually not the primary culprit when it comes to gaining excess weight.
Ball-and-socket, hinge and saddle — these are just a few names of the joints responsible for the elaborate movements of our bodies. They are masterfully engineered, however, they are at risk if they are left unattended.
It’s not a bad idea to look at the scale and track our weight. Just make sure to understand where that weight is coming from and be mindful on managing the pathways that increase or decrease lean muscle mass and fat.
Taking time to focus on ourselves and give ourselves the gift of exercise, can help us to be better parents, spouses and employees.
If parenthood has upended your old gym fitness regimes, remember you have a new exercise partner, brimming with energy and waiting to put you through a new cardio routine, running through a playground.
Napa fitness guru Sean McCawley shed lights upon what sugary foods do the body and how this affects our everyday life activities.
The act of putting socks on can be commonly overlooked but if you lose that ability, it’s quite a task to get back. Tracking your performance on how efficiently you can put on your socks is a good marker to see what you might need to improve on to ensure you can bend up and down.
Pay attention to your posture when perusing your smart phone. These tips from Napa fitness pro Sean McCawley will help you avoid damage to your neck and spine.
Sean McCawley, the founder and owner of Napa Tenacious Fitness in Napa, welcomes questions and comments. Reach him at 707-287-2727, [email protected] , or visit the website napatenaciousfitness.com.