WASHINGTON, April 27, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies across the country hosted the fifth annual National Walk @ Lunch Day® for their employees, local employers and communities. The lunchtime walking program was created by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) to encourage people to take steps toward better health by incorporating physical activity into their daily lives.
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According to the Mayo Clinic, a regular walking program may help guard against some chronic or potentially serious disease as well as control weight, reduce stress, increase energy and improve cognitive function and memory in seniors.
"Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies are committed to offering programs like National Walk @ Lunch Day that compliment – not compete with – American's busy schedules. Walking can be a simple, safe and effective way to get the regular exercise that we all may need to combat obesity and serious, but preventable, diseases," said Scott P. Serota, BCBSA's president and CEO. "We at BCBSA are proud to celebrate the thousands of walkers from coast to coast that may actively have taken steps toward a healthier future."
In Washington, DC, more than 1,500 federal employees came out to the National Mall to see The President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition Co-Chair and three-time Olympian Dominique Dawes and retired Redskins and Pro Football Hall of Famer Darrell Green lead a group stretch and walk alongside U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Deputy Secretary Bill Corr.
"National Walk @ Lunch Day is a terrific way to motivate America's workers to take a little time out of their day to focus on their health and well-being," said Dominique Dawes, co-chair of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. "If our nation's employees can find ways to be active for at least 30 minutes a day during lunch, it would be a big step toward a healthier, more productive workforce."
Washington Redskins and Pro Football Hall of Famer Darrell Green added, "Finding ways to make time for exercise doesn't have to be time consuming or strenuous. That's why programs like National Walk @ Lunch Day are so great. They remind you that every step you take can make a difference in your health."
"I'm thrilled to see so many people across the nation making it a priority to step out and get moving today," said HHS Deputy Secretary Bill Corr. "Numerous studies confirm the long-term health benefits of regular moderate activity and HHS is proud to be part of this important initiative to get more Americans moving."
According to the American Dietetic Association, more than 75 percent of office workers eat at their desks two to three times a week. Another study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that Americans walk 30 to 40 minutes less each day – or nearly 5,000 steps – when compared to their counterparts in other countries.
"Walking 30 minutes a day, five days a week, can help lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and its complications, including heart disease," said Beth Mayer-Davis, MSPH, PhD, RD, president, Health Care & Education, American Diabetes Association. "National Walk @ Lunch Day is a good reminder that you can sneak a walk into the middle of your work day."
Nationwide, hundreds of companies, schools, organizations, state and local governments are hosting or participating in National Walk @ Lunch Day events, such as city-owned Philadelphia Gas Works, which is the largest municipally owned gas utility in the country employing over 1,600 workers.
"This is the first year that the Philadelphia Gas Works participated in National Walk @ Lunch Day, and we're all very excited. In fact, we had walkers participating in three locations throughout Philadelphia," said Craig E. White, president and CEO of the Philadelphia Gas Works. "We're proud to be involved and we're eager to partner with Independence Blue Cross to not only expand our wellness programs, but to help our employees bring exercise into their everyday work and home lives."
Below are highlights of some of the National Walk @ Lunch Day activities taking place across the country:
- In Philadelphia, Independence Blue Cross (IBC) hosted more than 11,000 walkers from 103 employer groups, school districts and senior centers to participate in National Walk @ Lunch Day, both at a central event at Philadelphia’s City Hall, and at least 80 suburban campuses throughout southeastern Pennsylvania. Philadelphia’s Mayor Michael Nutter, St. Joseph’s University basketball coach Phil Martelli, and IBC CEO Dan Hilferty addressed the crowd to kick off the walk. The Phillie Phanatic, dance teams, and Zumba instructors were on hand to entertain the crowd and keep the energy flowing. IBC’s customer groups expanded the walk internationally this year, as some members walked in Montreal, Canada.
- West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, along with city and county officials, joined Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia and thousands of Americans across the country by participating in the fifth annual National Walk @ Lunch Day. Organized walks were held in Charleston and Parkersburg with state and local officials and management of Highmark West Virginia leading the way. Over 50 companies registered to participate in the organized walks and an additional 30 more registered to host their own walks at various sites across the state.
- Along with 15,000-plus walkers who signed up from businesses statewide, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE) employees grooved to "Walkstock: Peace. Walking. Rocking" – a 60's-themed lunch session with a live radio remote, "hippie" costume contest and 30-minute walk on mapped trails near the company's Omaha headquarters. BCBSNE promoted the walk statewide with a "Lace Up, Nebraska!" theme, and sent registered walkers Blue-branded shoe laces. Among the walkers statewide, the Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle kicked off a downtown walk for city/county employees and other downtown workers.
Before beginning any new exercise regime, consult your doctor or healthcare provider. For more information on National Walk @ Lunch Day, please visit http://www.bcbs.com/walkatlunch. You can connect with us at www.facebook.com/BCBSAssociation, follow us on Twitter @BCBSAssociation and join the conversation with #NWLD.
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 98 million members – one-in-three Americans. For more information on the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and its member companies, please visit www.BCBS.com.
SOURCE Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association