CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — On April 18, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee and its 4,400 employees will join thousands of workers across the country by participating in the first annual National Walk @ Lunch DaySM.

National Walk @ Lunch Day is a workplace walking event which encourages people to take time during their lunch breaks to start walking toward better health. Most Americans’ schedules are built around their workdays, so National Walk @ Lunch Day is designed to fit into – not compete with – their daily routine.

“This event is a great way for businesses to kick start a walking program and promote a healthier workplace environment,” said Vicki Cansler, senior vice president of people services at BlueCross. “Walking is the simplest form of exercise, yet it reaps great benefits for both employees and their employers.”

Health expenditures are projected to double over the next decade, an issue that impacts both individuals and businesses through increased premiums, co-pays and deductibles. In fact, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that the cost to treat illness and chronic disease caused by inactive lifestyles is nearly $1,000 for every family in America, every year.

Regular exercise, such as walking, not only helps prevent diseases like obesity and arthritis, but also helps reduce the cost impact of future health problems. According to a 1996 Surgeon General’s report, 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least five times a week has significant health benefits, such as lowering the risk of developing or dying from cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and improving the health of muscles, bones and joints.

"Every step counts in the fight to improve health and control health care costs, and we all have a vested interest in seeing this realized," said Elena Jensen, vice president of human resources for Chattanooga-based Covista Communications. "Walking is a good way to get fit and reduce stress—two factors that have a significant influence on the cost of health care. It’s an effective, low-impact form of exercise that can be enjoyed by most anyone, anywhere and at any time. This Walk @ Lunch campaign is the perfect answer to all those of us who wish we had time to work out."

Employees from Covista Communications will join BlueCross workers on April 18 in downtown Chattanooga to participate in the Walk @ Lunch event. BlueCross employees across Tennessee will be walking to raise awareness of the health benefits of a daily walking routine.

The national walking effort is the next step of WalkingWorks®, a Blue Cross Blue Shield Association program to help Americans live healthier lives and reduce unnecessary medical costs due to physical inactivity. The WalkingWorks program was developed in partnership with the Presidents Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. The Tennessee Blues Plan has made WalkingWorks available to its employees and members since 2003.

For more information on the Walk @ Lunch event or WalkingWorks program, visit bcbst.com and enter “walk” into the search field.

About BlueCross

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee's mission is to provide its customers and communities with peace of mind through affordable solutions for health and healing, life and living. Founded in 1945, the Chattanooga-based company is focused on reinventing the health plan for its 3 million members in Tennessee and across the country. Through its integrated health management approach, BlueCross provides patient-centric products and services that drive health improvement and positively impact health care quality and value. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Inc. is an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. For more information, visit the company's website at www.bcbst.com.