Chattanooga, TN — The American Heart Association’s national Start! Fit-Friendly Companies Program has recognized BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee for promoting physical activity and health in the workplace.

“We are very excited to announce that BlueCross is the first Platinum Level Fit Friendly Company in our area,” said Dale Huffstetler, regional director of the American Heart Association. “They have raised the bar and set the tone for other employee wellness initiatives.”

Adult Americans spend the majority of their waking hours at work, many in sedentary careers — amplifying the risk for medical problems such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. Obesity alone costs American businesses $12.7 billion in medical expenses and $225.8 billion in health-related productivity losses per year.

Workplace wellness offerings at BlueCross that contributed to the platinum recognition include such features as an open campus design and layout; a free fitness center and exercise courses; a nutrition center with a focus on healthy menu items; healthy choice-focused vending machines; outdoor walking paths; wellness educational classes; a clinic and pharmacy.

“We know that better health and sustained wellness are critical to keeping America and our state competitive,” Vicky Gregg, president and CEO of BlueCross. “At BlueCross, we’re in a unique position to not only feel the effects of rising health care costs, but to also understand the various drivers, one of which is a population that is sicker than ever. Our workplace culture of wellness is designed to help our employees embrace healthier lifestyles that reduce the likelihood of chronic problems and discourage high-risk behaviors.”

Studies suggest that implementing a worksite physical activity program and promoting a culture of physical activity will help companies increase productivity, reduce absenteeism, lower turn-over and reduce costs. Research shows that employers can save as much as $16 for every $1 they spend on health and wellness.

“At BlueCross, we want our customers and members to see us as a model for encouraging good health decisions,” Gregg added. “And that commitment to wellness starts with our own employees.”

As part of their award, BlueCross will have the right to use the Fit Friendly logo and seal in their employee recruitment activities. Surveys show that a growing number of people consider their future work environment and healthy options when making a career choice.

Think your company qualifies as a Start! Fit-Friendly company? Contact the local American Heart Association office at 423.763.4408 or apply online at www.ffc.heart.org. Applications are due by July 31st for review by a volunteer expert panel.

About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is the largest voluntary health organization fighting heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases in communities across America. These diseases devastate millions of Americans of all ages and cause nearly 950,000 deaths each year. To prevent, treat and defeat these diseases, the association educates the public and health professionals, advocates for healthier communities and funded $134 million in research last fiscal year. Visit www.americanheart.org for more information.

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.