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Blue Cross and Blue Shield Companies Celebrate National Walk @ Lunch Day(R) With Simultaneous Walking Events in All 50 States
Date:4/29/2009

WASHINGTON, April 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies nationwide are working with employers of all sizes to get their employees to take steps toward healthier lifestyles. Citing the tremendous cost that inactive lifestyles and preventable health conditions have on the nation's healthcare bill, Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies are holding lunchtime walks across America as part of the third annual National Walk @ Lunch Day(R).

The 39 independent and community-based Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies are hosting walks in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to engage employees, consumers and community leaders in healthy activities to promote the benefits of walking. Nationwide, thousands of walkers from companies, organizations, state and local governments are participating in this healthy initiative.

Regular, brisk walking is one of the simplest and safest forms of physical exercise. A regular walking program can help control weight, condition the heart and lungs, strengthen bones and help you take the first step to a healthier future. Regular walking also has other positive impacts on health, including decreasing the risk of a heart attack, reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and improving muscle tone.

"For countless Americans the path to better health begins with daily physical activity," said Scott P. Serota, president and CEO of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA). "There are real health benefits to be had when you turn a working lunch into a walking lunch. For that reason, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies applaud the thousands of people from Maine to Hawaii who are participating in National Walk @ Lunch Day."

In Washington, D.C., BCBSA and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield are joining the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management, Federal Occupational Health in co-hosting a National Walk @ Lunch Day event at the Hubert H. Humphrey building for federal government employees. Acting Surgeon General Steven K. Galson and Olympic Gold Medalist Dominique Dawes will be on hand to kick-off the D.C. event.

"It's great to see so many people across this nation getting out and simply walking," said Dr. Galson. "The science is clear. By getting at least two and a half hours a week of moderate aerobic physical activity, adults can gain long-term health benefits and lower their risk of developing or dying from many diseases. On behalf of HHS, we're proud to be a part of this important movement to get more Americans moving."

"Often we are so busy with our lives that we forget to pay attention to what is really important -- our health. The National Walk @ Lunch Day is the perfect event to start moving, improve your health and lower your risk for developing type 2 diabetes and its serious complications," said George Huntley, CPA, chair of the Board, American Diabetes Association, which nationally hosts Step Out: Walk To Fight Diabetes in 160 communities every Fall. "In support of the National Walk @ Lunch Day in Washington, the Association is distributing educational materials to employees focusing on the link between diabetes and weight and the importance of physical activity."

Nationwide, hundreds of companies, organizations, state and local governments are hosting or participating in National Walk @ Lunch Day events such as Regions Bank headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, and the School District of Philadelphia.

"Regions Bank is committed to the health and well-being of our employees," said Jonna Wallace, manager, Benefits Communications and Wellness, Region's Bank, Corporate Benefits. "We wanted to get a wellness program up and running quickly for our employees and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama made it easy with its National Walk @ Lunch Day and WalkingWorks(R) program at no cost to employers or employees. They provided us with toolkits, posters, and stickers. It was very easy to implement."

"The School District of Philadelphia is committed to promoting the health and well-being of our employees as well as our students," said Carol Kenney, Director of Employee Health Services for the School District of Philadelphia. "We are excited to be a part of something bigger, a national event taking place all across the country, same date, same time. National Walk @ Lunch Day puts a new twist on encouraging exercise, and our employees and students are looking forward to the opportunity to integrate walking into their day, while building camaraderie."

Below are highlights of some of the National Walk @ Lunch Day activities taking place across the country:

  • In Philadelphia, Independence Blue Cross is expecting approximately 10,000 walkers from more than 80 employer groups and school districts to participate in National Walk @ Lunch Day, both at a central event and numerous suburban campuses. Philadelphia's mayor will issue a proclamation at City Hall to kick off the walk.
  • Mountain State Blue Cross & Blue Shield, Inc. is partnering with the West Virginia Office of Healthy Lifestyles and the West Virginia Public Employees Insurance Agency to hold an event and 30 minute walk that will be attended by both the governor of West Virginia and the mayor of Charleston.
  • Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield is inviting the over 200 groups who participate in their Blue & You Fitness Challenge to join them at an event in Little Rock for a walk to the Downtown River Market. The Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield band will play during the event. Regional offices across the state also will be hosting events.
  • Blue Cross of Idaho is hosting an event at their headquarters and the mayor of Meridian plans to attend.
  • Community walks will be held in Columbia, Greenville and Charleston, courtesy of Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina. The walk in Columbia will take place at the South Carolina Statehouse, with several legislators participating, and the walks in Charleston and Greenville will be at public parks.
  • Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans to use National Walk @ Lunch Day to launch WalkingWorks program with employer groups. They are hosting walks in Cedar Rapids, Sioux City, Sioux Falls, and Des Moines (May 7).
  • Anthem Blue Cross and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield employees will participate in National Walk @ Lunch Day events. Associates from Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia will also participate in these events.

For more information, please visit www.bcbs.com/walkatlunch.

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 39 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide healthcare coverage for nearly 102 million individuals -- one-in-three Americans. For more information on the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and its member companies, please visit www.BCBS.com.


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SOURCE Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association
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