It’s a sunny Thursday afternoon, and groups of people are ambling through Washington D.C. taking in the famous cherry blossoms in all their glory. Some are tourists, some are schoolchildren on field trips, but one group is moving at a faster clip. It’s the Blue In Motion walking club, and they’re interested in more than just the cherry blossoms.
Blue In Motion was founded by Blue Cross Blue Shield Association employees to encourage walking during the work day as part of a healthy lifestyle. Joseph Youssef leads colleagues on weekly walks that vary in distance from 1.4 to 3 miles, and maps out scenic routes that have included trips to the Lincoln Monument, local museums and peaceful residential areas.
BCBSA supports Blue In Motion and a similar program called “Walk the Walk” in its Chicago headquarters to help foster a healthy, happy workforce. In fact, the 36 Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies believe so strongly in the importance of physical activity during the workday that we created an annual holiday to encourage others to join the movement: National Walk@Lunch Day.
Walking is a favorite low-impact workout because it’s truly as simple as putting one foot in front of the other. With no training, equipment or gym memberships required, it’s easy to see why walking is the most popular form of physical aerobic activity in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s beneficial, too. As little as 30 minutes of brisk walking a day can substantially reduce the risk of developing heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Plus, physical activity can help reduce workday stress and improve your mood when you’re feeling down.
Workday lunch walks also offer a valuable opportunity to engage with colleagues in a different setting and meet new people from across the organization. In the BCBSA Chicago office, “Walk the Walks” have taken groups of employees to the NFL Draft, the Chicago Cultural Center and the Chicago Riverwalk. In D.C., employees who can’t make the scheduled walks are encouraged to grab a buddy and get out for a walk when time allows.
Many BCBS companies also offer an option for those who prefer to enjoy the healthy benefits of walking on their own time through the WalkingWorks® program. WalkingWorks was developed in partnership with the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports and helps participants track their physical activity, set fitness goals and see their ongoing progress.
Whether you prefer to walk alone or want to organize your own office lunchtime walking club, National Walk@Lunch Day on Wednesday, April 27, is a great time to start. So pack your comfortable shoes and join us in walking toward a healthier America—and a healthier you!