June 14, 2013 By Colin Wood
In April, Oregon state legislators were pursuing a bill that could someday bring treadmill desks to state offices. If passed, the bill would initiate a two-year pilot program to test the “walking workstations,” determine their cost and effectiveness, and define the parameters of a potential larger-scale deployment within state agencies.
The bill, introduced by Rep. Jim Thompson, is expected to pass, according Legislative Director Jim Williams -- and the idea is already attracting attention out of state.
Oregon was one of the first states to opt for a quasi-governmental state-based health insurance exchange following President Obama’s Affordable Healthcare Act. This bill by Rep. Thompson, Williams said, should be a no-brainer given the state’s dedication to public health, and the sedentary nature of the typical office environment.
The bill is currently in committee waiting on funding, Williams said, adding that he feels the votes will come in. "That’s not really an issue,” he said, adding that it’s time to stop talking about improving delivery of medicine and delivering health. “Let’s go ahead and do something about it… If we have a goal of losing weight and obesity is one the leading causes of medical problems, why shouldn’t we do everything that we can to go ahead and reduce obesity?”
When passed, Williams said, this bill will create a more productive workforce and lower the cost of medical care in the state. “We’re going to lower the cost of medicine,” he said.
Employees would not be forced to walk on a treadmill all day like a hamster, Williams said, but allowing employees the option of having a desk where they can alternate between walking and sitting -- or putting a few treadmill desks in common areas -- could lead to a healthier, happier workforce.
At the non-profit Association of Washington Cities, CEO Mike McCarty has been using a treadmill desk for the past three months to help fight the degenerative effects of type 2 diabetes.