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Highmark Puts Employee Health First on National Walk@Lunch Day
Date:4/27/2009

National Initiative Turns a Working Lunch into a Walking Lunch April 29

PITTSBURGH, April 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Walking one mile a day burns about 100 calories; and, to burn the calories in an average candy bar, a person would need to walk the length of a football field 33 times. Experts agree on the many health benefits of moderate-level physical activity each day, with walking being one of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to exercise. Highmark employees will be making walking a part of their daily physical activity this Wednesday, April 29, when they lace up their walking shoes and join their peers and thousands of people across the country in National Walk@Lunch Day(R) activities from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.

For the third consecutive year, Highmark has organized walks across Pennsylvania to support this Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association national event. The lunchtime activity will encourage employees to fit a walking program into their daily routines, and while doing so help participants to reduce their risk of a variety of medical conditions.

Highmark's walk is part of a growing national workplace fitness effort created in response to recent studies that show Americans do not have time during their day to exercise. This activity is part of the Highmark's Lifestyle Returns program which helps participants adopt healthier lifestyles and take a more active role in their health. An easy-to-follow program that involves nearly 60 percent of Highmark's employees, the program identifies health and lifestyle areas in need of improvement, then helps participants to develop and keep new, healthier habits.

Walk@Lunch Day activities will take place at a variety of Highmark locations including Pittsburgh, Camp Hill, Erie, Johnstown, Allentown and Hunt Valley, Md. Pittsburgh's walk will be supported by Western Pennsylvania-based walking-fitness expert, Leslie Sansone; and in Camp Hill, the "Million Calorie March" organizer, Gary Marino, will be on hand to motivate and inspire participants.

"National Walk@Lunch Day is designed as an easy way for our employees to fit some exercise into their busy lives," said Donald Fischer, MD, Highmark's chief medical officer. "The process is simple - just take a half hour walk at lunch. Making it a habit can contribute to an individual's health and the overall health of the nation."

By making the commitment to walk to better health, Highmark employees are reducing their likelihood of costly future health problems. Research shows that a regular walking program can help control weight, condition the heart and lungs, and prevent the onset of health problems. Walking can help those with chronic illnesses to better manage their health. Highmark is one of many health-conscious companies across America encouraging employees to take steps to better health.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates the cost to treat illness and chronic disease caused by inactive lifestyles is nearly $1,000 for every family in America, each year. Simply getting 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, such as a brisk walk, at least five times a week has significant health benefits including lowering the risk of developing or dying from cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and improving the health of muscles, bones and joints.

"National Walk@Lunch Day will not only provide a good chance for our employees to create time in their busy work schedules to exercise, but it will also be an opportunity to learn more about the benefits of walking each day," said Dr. Fischer. "Highmark and our employees are proud to participate in this innovative event."

Highmark recognizes the health benefits of incorporating health and wellness into employees' daily activities. Highmark's nearly 19,000 employees are provided with many opportunities to participate in on-line, telephonic and classroom-based wellness programs that encourage them to make healthy lifestyle choices both at work and throughout their lives.

National Walk@Lunch Day also kicks off Highmark's 10,000 Step Challenge(SM), a 12-week pedometer walking program designed to help individuals increase their physical activity, endurance and improve their overall health. More than 4,000 employees are participating in this program.

In addition, Highmark is gearing up to host its annual Walk for a Healthy Community events in Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Erie and Allentown. Last year's Walk for a Healthy Community raised more than a half-million dollars for Pennsylvania charities. For more information and details on how to participate, visit www.walkforahealthycommunity.org.

About Highmark Inc.

As one of the state's leading health insurers, and with nearly 70 years of community involvement, Pittsburgh-based Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield serves 3.1 million members. The company's mission is to provide access to affordable, quality health care enabling individuals to live longer, healthier lives. Highmark exerts an enormous economic impact throughout Pennsylvania. A recent study states that Highmark's positive impact exceeded $2.5 billion. Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield employs more than 5,000 people in the region and provides the resources to give its members a greater hand in their health.

Highmark is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans. For more information, visit www.highmark.com.


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SOURCE Highmark Inc.
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