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Press Release

Celebrate Older Americans Month in May with Exercise!

Two racers, ages 71 and 75, prepare for the May 1 Blue Cross Broad Street Run

Philadelphia, PA - April 7, 2011 - Bill McClellan's wake-up call that he was seriously out of shape and overweight came in his early 40s. Walking slowly and with great effort across the street one day, he was nearly hit by a car. At that moment, he told himself it was time for a change. So he took up running. Today, three decades later at 75 years old, Bill is still running, and training for the Blue Cross Broad Street Run on May 1.

Sandy Folzer, 71, is also training for this year's run. When Sandy ran for the first time in 1976 - "just for fun" - she completed two loops around the East and West River drives, a total of 16 miles. She figured if she could run that far so easily, she could do the Philadelphia Marathon - and she placed fifth among women, running the 26.2 miles in 3 hours and 45 minutes. Now also a devotee of yoga, tennis, and biking, Sandy has placed first or second in her age division in the Blue Cross Broad Street Run nearly every year for 25 years.

With more than 430 participants 60 and older who completed the race in 2010, the Blue Cross Broad Street Run is a testament to staying fit and youthful as we age. Taking place in May, which is Older Americans Month, the 32-year-old run has become the largest 10-miler in the United States with 26,000 runners last year.

If running isn't your thing, walking or other moderate activity can be just as beneficial. "Exercise is the closest thing we have to the fountain of youth and it's good for everybody, no matter how old they are," said Dr. Salinas Graves, medical director at Independence Blue Cross. "The good news is we can continue to build muscle and heart strength throughout our lives, so it's never too late to start."

"What I do is not spectacular," says Blue Cross Broad Street runner Bill McClellan, a retired Marine who lives in Philadelphia. "You just have to get out of bed in the morning and do something. Always set aside at least one hour for yourself every day."

Running changed his life, Bill says. Not only did it help him lose weight and shape up, but running also helped him recover a lot easier from prostate cancer surgery in 2001. "In less than three months, I was out running again. When you are in shape, you can bounce back much faster," says Bill who ran the first Blue Cross Broad Street Run in 1978 and has completed 27 marathons, including the Chicago Marathon where he placed first in his age group in 2006.

To prepare for the run, he logs about 35 miles a week. "I don't train with the same intensity I used to, but I'm still very self-motivated," said Bill, who is shooting to run the 10 miles in 95 minutes. Bill swears by his exercise regime and is happy to give fitness advice to others: "Everyone needs to take charge of their life. Find a routine that works for you and stick with it," he says.

Sandy Folzer is one of Bill's running buddies and like Bill, Sandy is a cancer survivor who firmly believes that running and yoga helped her cope with her chemotherapy treatments and life after a double mastectomy 16 years ago. "Exercise makes me feel muscular and good about my body, when I might not otherwise," said Sandy, a retired professor, who lives in Glenside and has three daughters who also run. "I've also made a lot of friends through running, and I especially love the strength and confidence it has given me." 

The Blue Cross Broad Street Run has a special place in Bill and Sandy's hearts, having run it close to 50 times between the two of them. Both call it one of their favorite runs. But having the Blue Cross Broad Street Run benefit the American Cancer Society makes it that much more personal and meaningful. "I'm a strong advocate for breast cancer awareness and particularly educating people about the different ways we can help prevent the disease," said Sandy.

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 is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans.

About the Blue Cross Broad Street Run
The Blue Cross Broad Street Run  is managed by the Philadelphia Recreation Department with the cooperation of city agencies and more than 45 volunteer groups. The race is held the first Sunday in May, and the course includes a variety of Philadelphia neighborhoods along Broad Street. The race raises funds for the American Cancer Society.

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