Share |

Press Release

Nearly 15,000 Celebrated National Walk @ Lunch Day in Southeastern Pennsylvania

Independence Blue Cross sponsors event to focus on fitting exercise into the workday

Philadelphia, PA - May 27, 2009 - Last month nearly 15,000 employees and students across the Philadelphia region walked toward good health for National Walk @ Lunch DaySM, sponsored by Independence Blue Cross (IBC). These walkers joined tens of thousands participating simultaneously in walks in all 50 states, demonstrating for working Americans everywhere how to incorporate exercise into their daily routine.

On April 29, walks took place simultaneously in this region at City Hall in Philadelphia and at 55 worksites in the five-county area. The City Hall walk drew a crowd of more than 5,000 walkers, including 300 local high school students. Regular fitness breaks kept the energy level high, and the Phillie Phanatic led walkers on several laps. At noon, walkers heard welcoming remarks from Mayor Michael Nutter, IBC President and CEO Joseph A. Frick, former Philadelphia Eagles coach Dick Vermeil, Daily News columnist and fitness expert Kimberly Garrison, and Benjamin Franklin himself.

"Most Americans spend over half of their waking hours at work," said Frick. "National Walk @ Lunch Day encourages workers to take time out of their busy schedules and go for a walk. Our health needs to be a top priority and this event demonstrates the ease of fitting exercise into the work day."

IBC nearly tripled the number of participants in the Philadelphia area from last year's National Walk @ Lunch Day. This year more than 75 employers, including school districts, corporations, and small businesses, took part in simultaneous walks.

Along with the School District of Philadelphia, a number of local universities and other area school districts participated in this year's event including North Penn School District in Lansdale, which hosted more than 4,000 employee and student walkers. Other walking groups included the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, City of Philadelphia, Comcast, Cozen O'Connor, Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, and SEPTA.

Since the event, participating employers have begun creating regular walking programs at their workplaces to keep the momentum of National Walk @ Lunch Day going throughout the year.

"The School District of Philadelphia puts emphasis on healthy lifestyles for our employees as well as our students," said Carol Kenney, director of Employee Health Services for the district. "Walking at lunch was a great way to integrate exercise into the day while spending time with co-workers outside the office and classroom, and we are thrilled that through National Walk @ Lunch Day we've been able to encourage a regular routine of walking at lunch toward better health."

"Walking is one of the simplest, safest, and most effective ways to get the regular exercise that we all need," said Dr. Rich Snyder, senior vice president of Health Services at IBC. "But too many Americans aren't getting any exercise at all. Sadly, millions of Americans suffer from illnesses that can be prevented or improved through regular physical activity. Walking at lunch is an excellent way to work it in."

National Walk @ Lunch Day is a component of WalkingWorks®, a Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association physical activity program that helps Americans live healthier lives and reduce unnecessary medical costs due to physical inactivity. WalkingWorks was developed in partnership with the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

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 3.4 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 Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans.