When beginning a diet and exercise plan, many find it helpful to have a coach or partner for encouragement throughout the process. Whether it’s the accountability of meeting your friend at the gym or upholding the pact you’ve made with your co-workers to pack nutritious lunches all week, a support system can be a helpful tool to reach health goals. What if that same concept of encouragement and accountability was applied to workplace wellness? As Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies work to improve America’s health through The Power of Blue – our collective ability to make a difference in the health of our communities - workplace wellness is a key area of focus. From coast to coast, we’re working with employers and local organizations to implement programs that improve the health of employees and ultimately, the country as a whole. One such example is a partnership between Premera Blue Cross and the American Heart Association, (AHA) which looks to apply the logic of a “coach” or mentor to companies looking to improve wellness among their employees. Since 2009, the AHA has recognized Premera Blue Cross as a Platinum Fit-Friendly Worksite, which designates employers who go above and beyond when it comes to their employees' health. To further promote workplace fitness, Premera Blue Cross formed a partnership with the AHA that includes development and sponsorship of the Fit-Friendly Worksite Mentor Program, an offshoot of the Fit Friendly Worksite program. In this initiative, Premera Blue Cross and other organizations that have been recognized by the AHA as Fit-Friendly Worksites mentor other organizations that are interested in establishing worksite wellness programs and applying for the related recognition. In 2013, the Fit Friendly Worksite Mentor Program sponsorship also encompassed support for the regional Dinner with Heart gala, the Go Red For Women® Luncheon, HeartChase and National Eating Healthy Day. More than 85 organizations are now recognized locally for their wellness programs. In addition to participating in the Fit-Friendly Worksite Mentor Program, Premera Blue Cross President and CEO H.R. Brereton (Gubby) Barlow, served as chair of the 2013 AHA Puget Sound Heart and Stroke Walk. A team of approximately 500 Premera Blue Cross associates participated in the walk and raised funds for the cause. Barlow also mobilized an executive leadership team which engaged companies and their associates from throughout the Puget Sound region, and with the support of more than 10,000 walkers, the AHA was able to raise more than $1.7 million for the walk. To learn more about this, or other ways Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies are demonstrating our commitment to wellness in the workplace, download the full Investing in America’s Health report.