BROKEN WINDOWS THEORY
There’s a controversial theory in criminology about neighborhood police patrols and neighborhood safety called the “Broken Windows Theory”. It was introduced in a 1982 Atlantic Monthly article and expounded upon in a subsequent book.
I became aware of the existence of this theory only late last fall as I sat in a waiting room, reading a piece in a popular magazine (regretfully I couldn't recall the source so can't find it to give credit where it's due). This author was making a point that the theory might generally be applied to marriage. It's interpretation, in this author's and others' views, is that where huge problems exist the making of small repairs can begin to reverse what seems to be insurmountable damage and prevent additional damage.
Wikipedia summarizes, correctly or incorrectly (not being an expert I cannot judge), that the Broken Windows Theory’s authors addressed “crime and strategies to contain or eliminate crime from urban neighborhoods.” They offered a “successful strategy for preventing vandalism” such as the breaking of windows, which blighted the neighborhood and encouraged additional acts of vandalism. In a nutshell, this interpretation of the theory says that if neighborhood problems were recognized early and repairs made when they were small, in a short period of time from which they were noticed, there would be less tendency by vandals to break more windows or damage other structures. Similarly, by cleaning the sidewalk every day, there would be a decreased tendency for litter to accumulate or it would accumulate at a lower rate. Such problems, the theory proposed, would be “less likely to escalate and thus "respectable" residents “ would not “flee the neighborhood” leaving it to undergo further degradation by individuals not invested in it as a place to call home.
The PURPOSE of my post is NOT to argue the merits of a SOCIOLOGICAL theory! The author writing the article I was reading about marriage was using it to offer advice to couples: if your situation seems hopeless, try to repair one small “broken window” at a time before fleeing from it with a divorce. My reason for bringing this theory to RUNNERS’ attention is that I think it could apply to fitness and health!
Sometimes we feel our body conditioning is going downhill, that we have let outside forces, like easy access to fast food, jobs that make us sit all day, weather that prevents enjoying the outdoors, vandalize our body “neighborhood” in small ways. We aren’t encouraged to police it very well either when others around us are also neglectful. The more out of shape we become, the more daunting the task seems to be to reverse the trend.
If there seem to be too many things to fix in your fitness life, WHY NOT START BY REPAIRING ONE SMALL “BROKEN WINDOW”? Chose a single fitness issue to address and work to improve in that ONE way. It might be to increase single-leg balance, or flexibility, or gluteus muscle strength. Set a pedometer goal to take 10,000 steps each day. What about standing up from sitting in a desk chair once an hour (an appropriate goal for me when writing these posts) or getting outdoors for 10 minutes every lunchtime? As you improve one aspect of your physical self you might be encouraged to try improving another until you achieve a larger fitness goal. And if a window breaks, for whatever reason, try to get back on track and fix it quickly, before that damage accumulates!
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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