MMA debating workplace health, tanning bed proposalsby Lorna Benson, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — The state's largest physicians' organization is debating a proposal that would encourage short physical activity breaks in the workplace.
The resolution is one of approximately 30 policy positions being considered during the Minnesota Medical Association's annual meeting in Duluth.
Some members want the MMA employers to provide a 10-minute exercise video for their workers. If the proposal passes, it wouldn't be legally binding. But it would carry the backing of the 10,000-member group.
Outgoing President Patricia Lindholm said studies show that even brief periods of exercise improve employee health.
"Ten-minute physical activity breaks do decrease weight circumferences and body mass index, blood pressure and actually absenteeism from work," Lindholm said. "It seems to decrease the urge for people to smoke which is a benefit as well."
The proposal urges employers not to schedule exercise sessions during an employee's regular break time.
Another proposal at the meeting comes from members of the Zumbro Valley Medical Society. They propose that anyone under 18 would have to get a parent's permission to use a tanning bed or tanning parlor.
Lindholm said minors may not understand the considerable health risks associated with tanning.
"If we're going to restrict other things that we consider are risky to one's health such as smoking or alcohol and those types of things, well this clearly, tanning beds are more toxic than the sun when it comes to skin cancer," Lindholm said. "A lot of people don't realize that."
The proposal also asks the Minnesota Department of Health and the Legislature to strengthen education, training and testing requirements for tanning bed employees.