Government Technology

Oregon Treadmill Desks Gaining Traction


June 14, 2013 By

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.

How Do Treadmill Desks Really Work?

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.

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gh    |    Commented June 17, 2013

As an Oregonian, I am embarrassed that my state is considering spending my tax dollars this way. If someone really wants to get exercise, they can walk during their break –at no cost to tax payers. For the vast majority of obese Americans, obesity is a choice. I seriously doubt that you’ll find a morbidly obese employee on one of those things –especially when using it for “months” lead only to a 5 lb drop. Instead, this will be nothing but a perk to the runners and sports-minded employees -a chance to get another workout in while looking at emails for “hours.” (Hours of emails? What is his job? I’ll take it if that is all he does!) I’d rather see my money go into a program that makes sure claims for disability are legitimate. Just once I’d like to see government try to SAVE money rather than spending it on more nanny programs.

Ron Swanson    |    Commented June 17, 2013

The treadmill desk bill (legislative process) is required BECAUSE of the Oregon Public Employees Union. They are the group who crafted the provisions needed to approve new product for ANY state employee. Legislators simply go through the motions and debate the merits for or against the bill (as usual). Every building in the States control has a facilities requirement to maintain products in work spaces. If they don't then the state or employee is at risk of a lawsuit for reasons of not maintaining equipment in ANY event someone is injured or experiences soft tissue trauma (like carpel tunnel). Therefore, there are on-going maintenance costs associated with maintaining any LARGE workforce (be it government or otherwise). IF the State re-uses existing furniture, average costs for cube replacement will easily average $1200-2400 a station. $1600 for a treadmill desk is a good comparable product that will also increase the life of the user (the Mayo clinic has released throngs of these studies). Questions? RS ~A Participating Oregonian~

Anthony    |    Commented June 17, 2013

Good idea, although most government offices have a dress code which would make the use of the treadmills unlikely. A supervisor might state his department is a "customer engagement" department and require business attire, regardless of the states efforts. Fitness centers inside corporate buildings, with state legislation to allow use of facilities while on-the-clock, would probably work out better than replacing traditional desks with treadmills. I personally worked in a "customer support" role and was required to wear business casual everyday with threat of termination if I did not (it was a new policy). Unfortunately we never dealt with anyone in person, as all support was via telephone to customers nationwide. On a side note it was shown that "stand-up" desks were good for circulation and many were adjustable to allow standing or sitting, but this has not gained momentum. It's great to see changes like these moving forward, but corporate culture and superiors expectations of employees might make these implementations impossible.

@Anthony    |    Commented June 18, 2013

I think you've got the right idea. This idea will be doomed because of the whole necktie argument. Why do people cling to wearing neckties? What real purpose do they serve besides encouraging elitism and sending money overseas for their production? They can be dangerous, especially in a industrial setting, as an article of loose clothing and seem to have the adverse affect of restricting blood flow to the brains of management and political leaders. The only real argument that I've heard for why they seem to be 'required' any longer is that our predecessors had to wear them, so now we should have to too (sadistic b@stards). ;-)

Juliane    |    Commented June 18, 2013

I would absolutely love this for the State of NJ. A lot of my colleagues walk on their breaks. Sitting at a desk all day does not help the health status of desk workers.

Luke    |    Commented June 19, 2013

Looks a great idea, not sure about doing something complex on it. A bit like pat your head and rub belly at the same time, it might all become unstuck

Jen    |    Commented June 19, 2013

I have wanted this for years. I would love for my office to have a treadmill desk - I do repetitive data entry all day - and have tons of it to do, if I could be walking on a treadmill I could get more work done, and get in better shape, and have more energy. I don't like to take a walk, then I can't get my work done. I think it is a great idea.

Sarah    |    Commented June 20, 2013

I cannot believe how inefficient some local governments are. I don't want my tax money spent on this. The onus is on individual employees to incorporate physical exercise into their daily activity. Why not provide a gym where employees can go during their lunch break instead of treadmills at the desks?

Karen    |    Commented June 24, 2013

I applaud this idea wholeheartedly! I'm in a back office with huge volume and very few people to help - they left! For those of us who rarely can get away because the workload has "grown" but the staff has retired/left - this would be wonderful! As it is now, my desk(s) work is done standing up when I can, as I get really tired of sitting, sitting, sitting. I have to constantly proofread, send and receive confirming emails, collate doc packages, and must enter, use databases, and enter, enter, enter all day long. I applaud this idea and would love it and would use it every single day at least several hours a day. Way to go Oregon, beautiful idea!

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