PHILADELPHIA, April 23 Lace up your sneakers Philadelphia, and take a walk at lunch on Wednesday, April 28, with Independence Blue Cross (IBC). For the third year, IBC will sponsor National Walk @ Lunch Day and encourage companies throughout the region to start a lunchtime walking routine.
To drive the message home that fitness needs to be an important part of each and every day, IBC will host a centralized walking event at City Hall in center city Philadelphia for customers, community members, and associates, while some group customers host walks of their own in suburban locations. An estimated 12,000 to 14,000 walkers from 75 different employer groups will take part in this regional event, joining tens of thousands of others participating across the country with other Blue plans.
"We aim to help our members stay well and strengthen the health of our community," said Joseph A. Frick, president and CEO at Independence Blue Cross. "Our third annual National Walk @ Lunch Day accomplishes both of these objectives. Key rewards for those with active lifestyles are better general health and fewer medical problems. This event is an easy, energy-boosting, low-cost way to get people walking outdoors as a first step toward exercising regularly."
National Walk @ Lunch Day is spearheaded annually by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association to encourage employers to hold lunchtime walks for their employees and promote the health benefits of physical activity during the work day. Lunchtime walks will take place in all 50 states, sponsored by the 39 Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans across the country.
Over the years, National Walk @ Lunch Day has been widely successful, both across the country and locally. Nationally, tens of thousands of Blue Cross and Blue Shield plan members walked throughout the U.S. In the Philadelphia region, more than 15,000 individuals walked at City Hall and in suburban locations in 2009.
"We are very proud that IBC was among the top five Blue plans across the nation in terms of overall participation levels for 2009, and we expect to match those numbers this year," said Frick. "While the health benefits associated with National Walk @ Lunch Day are great, our associates and customers like this event because it's also a fun activity that builds morale and camaraderie among colleagues."
Employer groups who are customers of IBC report that they have taken part in National Walk @ Lunch Day to help their employees find an easy way to stay healthy, which, in the long run, helps reduce the employers' health care costs. IBC offers an online toolkit to help customers and companies everywhere to plan their own walks. Many participating employer groups have created regular walking programs at their workplaces to keep the momentum of National Walk @ Lunch Day going throughout the year.
On April 28 at City Hall, fitness specialists will keep the energy level high with regular exercise breaks, and the Phillie Phanatic will lead walkers around City Hall. At noon, walkers will hear welcoming remarks from IBC CEO Joe Frick, Villanova Wildcats coach Jay Wright, Health Commissioner for Philadelphia Dr. Donald Schwarz, and IBC chief medical officer Dr. Richard Snyder. IBC's Wellness Van will be on site to offer free public health screenings.
"We all need regular exercise, and walking is one of the simplest, safest, and most effective means of physical activity," said Dr. Rich Snyder, chief medical officer for IBC. "But too many Americans don't exercise at all. Inactive lifestyles are at the root of many chronic illnesses like type 2 diabetes and certain heart conditions, and the cost of treating these diseases is significant. We may have hectic schedules, but our health should be a top priority. This event helps employees fit exercise into their work day. By walking at lunch with our associates, customers, and members, we are demonstrating leadership in the development of healthier lifestyles."
Some of this year's participants at City Hall include employees from the City of Philadelphia, the School District of Philadelphia, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and SEPTA.
IBC also sponsors other Philadelphia fitness events and venues throughout the year:
In addition, Independence Blue Cross encourages members to pursue the advantages of a healthy lifestyle by taking an active role in their health care decisions. Members have comprehensive decision support and 24/7 Health Coaches available to them through Connections(SM), and Healthy Lifestyles(SM) programs are designed to educate and encourage healthy behavior through incentive rewards and active participation.
About Independence Blue Cross
Independence Blue Cross is a leading health insurer in southeastern Pennsylvania. Nationwide, Independence Blue Cross and its affiliates provide coverage to nearly 3.3 million people. For more than 70 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's HMO and PPO health care plans have consistently received the highest ratings from the National Committee for Quality Assurance.
Independence Blue Cross is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. More information about Independence Blue Cross is available at www.ibx.com.
-- The Blue Cross Broad Street Run, May 2, 2010. This 10-mile course stretches from North Philadelphia to South Philadelphia and passes through a variety of Philadelphia neighborhoods along Broad Street. Raising funds for the American Cancer Society, the race attracts runners from across the country and the globe. To make the race as safe and enjoyable as possible for runners, the City of Philadelphia has limited registration to 30,000 participants. For more information, visit www.broadstreetrun.com. -- American Diabetes Association's Step Out: Walk to Fight Diabetes, October 2, 2010. This family-and team-friendly 5K walk on West River Drive strives to raise awareness about and money for diabetes, a debilitating chronic illness that affects nearly 24 million adults and children. Last year's Philadelphia walk was the most successful of more than 160 such walks across the nation and attracted 3,000 walkers who raised $560,000. Find out more at www.diabetes.org/stepout. -- The Blue Cross RiverRink, opens Thanksgiving weekend. Philadelphia's only outdoor public ice rink is located at Penn's Landing on Columbus Boulevard and Market Street. Through the winter months, this venue offers the perfect place for family fun and exercise along the scenic Delaware River. IBC members are eligible for discounted admission with their ID card.
SOURCE Independence Blue Cross