PHILADELPHIA, April 27, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Independence Blue Cross (IBC) hosted more than 11,000 people in Philadelphia and around the region who walked at lunchtime to improve their health as part of National Walk @ Lunch Day(SM). The fourth annual event, which attracted tens of thousands of participants through walks held at the same time in all 50 states, is part of a program sponsored by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association to demonstrate how easy it is to fit regular exercise into the busiest of schedules.
"As part of our mission to enhance the health of the people and communities we serve, we want to help our customers, members, and the community find easy ways to fit daily physical activity into their busy lives," said Daniel J. Hilferty, IBC's president and CEO. "Our goal is to demonstrate that by doing something as simple as turning a working lunch into a walking lunch, people can make a big difference in their overall wellness. We were pleased to host one of the nation's largest National Walk @ Lunch Day walks, and we were thrilled that dozens of employers invited their employees to join us today for the first time."
IBC CEO Hilferty and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter kicked off the largest walk in the area, held at Philadelphia's City Hall, where 5,000 walkers participated. Also addressing the crowd at City Hall was St. Joseph's University basketball coach Phil Martelli and Temple University's basketball coach Fran Dunphy, who urged people to make walking part of their daily routine. The Phillie Phanatic, dance teams, and Zumba instructors were on hand to keep the energy flowing as participants walked a 1.5-mile course around City Hall's perimeter during lunchtime today.
At the same time, roughly 6,000 people participated in walks at 80 other locations outside Center City organized by employers, school districts, and senior centers.
All together, the walks in the Philadelphia region drew more than 11,000 people from 103 organizations throughout the region.
The cost to treat illness and chronic disease caused by inactive lifestyles is nearly $1,000 for every family in America annually, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Studies have shown that getting just 30 minutes of moderate physical activity (such as a brisk walk) at least five times a week has significant health benefits, including: lowered risk of developing or dying from cardiovascular disease, hypertension or type 2 diabetes; reduced stress; and improved health of muscles, bones and joints.
Nationwide, thousands of companies, schools, organizations, and state and local governments hosted or participated in National Walk @ Lunch Day events, such as the School District of Philadelphia, which employs over 20,000 teachers and staff members at 270 public schools throughout the region.
"This was our third year participating in National Walk @ Lunch Day, and our employees really look forward to this event," said Carol Kenney, director of employee health services for the School District of Philadelphia. "When Independence Blue Cross first approached us with this innovative idea a couple years ago, our employees took the energy from National Walk and boosted things to another level by mapping out routes and determining that 16 laps around our district office atrium is equivalent to a mile. Before we knew it, we had five walking clubs that meet regularly to walk for exercise. We also had hundreds of school kids participate as part of their physical education program this year. Even though they love the fun camaraderie this event creates, our faculty members were also excited to know that with their participation, they are part of something big - something happening nationally," Kenney added.
National Walk @ Lunch Day is a component of WalkingWorks®, a Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association physical activity program designed to help Americans live healthier lives and reduce unnecessary medical costs due to physical inactivity. The WalkingWorks program was developed in partnership with the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.
To help its customers continue the healthy habits they began today, Independence Blue Cross will also debut a pedometer application following the 32nd Annual Blue Cross Broad Street Run on Sunday, May 1. Available for free, the app will allow users to track their miles, provide easy-to-access walking paths, and contain other helpful tips for overall wellness. In addition, IBC has launched a web site, www.ibx.com/getwalking that provides a series of year-round activities in the region that will bring people together to enjoy the region's neighborhoods and strengthen the community one step at a time.
It is advised that you consult your doctor before participating in physical activity that may be new or strenuous for you.
Independence Blue Cross is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
About Independence Blue Cross
Independence Blue Cross is a leading health insurer in Southeastern Pennsylvania. IBC and its affiliates provide coverage to nearly 3.1 million people. For 73 years, Independence Blue Cross has offered high-quality health care coverage tailored to meet the changing needs of members, employers, and health care professionals. Independence Blue Cross is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans. For more information about Independence Blue Cross, please visit www.ibx.com.
SOURCE Independence Blue Cross