Workplace exercise programs encourage walking

For people short on time, walking at lunch can be an excellent way to get their daily exercise
WASHINGTON / PRNewswire via COMTEX -- Working Americans are stymied when it comes to living healthier lives, according to a new survey released today at the U.S. Capitol, during National Employee Health and Fitness Week. Most people questioned in the national poll commissioned by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) and conducted shortly after the release of new federal health guidelines say that they would like to exercise more, but fully 70 percent believe they lack the time necessary.

"Blue Cross Blue Shield Plans are partnering with employers to provide information and concrete ways that help Americans live healthier lifestyles," said BCBSA President and CEO Scott P. Serota. "Better-informed consumers mean fewer costly health problems down the road, and that helps control the rising cost of healthcare. We are pleased to walk the walk with Surgeon General Carmona, corporate leaders, and millions of Americans."

Work out at work: Walking works!

Today, 30 percent of employees report having access to fitness programs at work. The study shows that the number of working Americans who report they get "no exercise" is two times higher among those who have no access to workplace fitness programs than it is for those who do. And these non-exercisers cite workplace programs and flexibility as leading incentives that would make them much more likely to increase their physical activity.

"The good news is -- walking works, especially when it's supported in the workplace," said Dr. Richard Carmona, U.S. Surgeon General. "Now, we have to find new ways to make more time for physical activity. I commend Blue Cross Blue Shield and major employers who are stepping up to help working Americans get their daily dose of walking."

The survey conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates found that 57 percent of working adults in the United States are interested in getting more exercise than they currently do. Six in ten admit they are overweight and 40 percent have had a doctor recommend exercise. The newest federal guidelines in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's MyPyramid call on Americans to get at least 150 minutes of exercise per week. However, only 39 percent of employed adults say they are meeting that goal.

WalkingWorks Workplace program

At a Capitol news conference today, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans and partner employers jointly announced the launch of the WalkingWorks Workplace programs. In WalkingWorks Workplace, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans and employers provide employees with tools and support to incorporate more walking into their everyday routines.

"As the largest insurer of Federal employees in the nation, CareFirst is pleased to be a partner in this important federal employee fitness program," said William L. Jews, President and CEO of CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield. "For every 2,000 federal employees who participate in WalkingWorks, some 500,000 miles will be covered over the course of the 10-week pilot. Now that's a healthy workout."

Other insurer/employer partnerships announced today include workplace pilot programs with:

  • Nissan North America, a major employer in the Southeast; and BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee.
  • County of Erie employees and BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York.
  • "We are very excited to be joining with Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans to begin the WalkingWorks program at our federal facilities," said Dr. Mark DeLowery, Director of Clinical Services, Federal Occupational Health, Department of Health and Human Services. "Rising health care costs are a big challenge for all employers, public and private, and healthier employees will save money in the long run. It's good for each of us, and good for all of us."

    How the program works

    WalkingWorks was created by Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies to help Americans live healthier, more active lives, and ultimately reduce the likelihood of costly health problems. WalkingWorks Workplace offers employers specially designed materials to help them implement walking programs.

    Employees use pedometers, online tools, and materials that guide them in creating personalized walking and nutrition programs based on age, weight, overall health and personal goals. Participants receive the knowledge and tools they need to set personal walking benchmarks, track progress, and establish a basic level of physical fitness.

    A recent study conducted at the University of Tennessee indicates that this type of structured pedometer program delivers three key factors of goal setting, self monitoring, and reinforcement, and is effective in motivating participants to sustain their participation.

    The WalkingWorks program guide was co-developed with the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Steps to a HealthierUS initiative, and was reviewed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the office of the U.S. Surgeon General. A nutrition guide that incorporates the latest USDA guidelines was co-developed with the American Council for Fitness and Nutrition.

    Today's news conference was held as part of the kick-off to the 3rd Annual Capitol Hill Challenge, a WalkingWorks program that engages over 5,000 Members of Congress and staff in a six-week House vs. Senate walking contest. CongressDailyAM is a media sponsor.

    For more information on WalkingWorks, please visit http://www.bcbs.com/walkingworks.

    About The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association
    The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is made up of 40 independent, locally owned and operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide healthcare coverage for more than 92 million -- nearly one-in-three -- Americans. For more information about the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies, please visit http://www.BCBS.com. For more information on Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association's policy positions and the healthcare debate, visit http://www.BCBSHealthIssues.com.


    Source: Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association; Contact: John Parker of Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, 202-626-4818, or john.parker@bcbsa.com. URL: www.prnewswire.com.

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