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Blue & You Fitness Challenge Kicks off Another Year of Fitness


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Ann Russell, Arkansas Department of Health @ 501-661-2474
Joyce Williams, Arkansas Department of Human Services @ 501-683-5286
Kristy Fleming, Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield @ 501-378-5869

70,000 nationwide could join 2012 competition

Little Rock, Ark. (March 1, 2012) — Representatives from companies and groups throughout Arkansas and the nation gathered today to kick off of the 2012 Blue & You Fitness Challenge held at the Statehouse Convention Center.

Groups and individuals along with their “Friends in Fitness” pledged to get fit at the kickoff event as companies and groups made their commitment to exercise 30, 60 or 92 checkpoints and advance virtually across America.

The exercise competition has grown from two entities in 2004 to more than 140 groups with nearly 70,000 potential employees/individuals competing in 2012. The Blue & You Fitness Challenge begins March 1 and runs through May 31 and is hosted by Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the Arkansas Department of Health and the Arkansas Department of Human Services. The Challenge encourages employees to work toward the public health recommendation of 30 minutes of physical activity each day for adults, most days of the week.

“Thousands of ‘fitness friends’ are making a move toward better health by participating in the Challenge this year,” said Richard Cooper, vice president of Human Resources for Arkansas Blue Cross and team champion for the Challenge. “Having a workout buddy to support your goals and celebrate achievements with is one of the best motivations.”

During the contest, participants engage in eligible cardiovascular-oriented exercises to work their way through at least 30 virtual checkpoints across America during the three-month contest, although 92 checkpoints (the number of total days of the contest) are on the virtual map. Participants exercise through all state capitals, many national parks and some interesting places in between.

Blue & You Fitness Challenge participants register and log their exercise online at BlueAndYouFitnessChallenge-ark.com. Participants are able to watch real-time data to see how their stats compare to others in the competition. The winning entity is determined by the greatest employee/group participation and the highest scores in four categories.

“At DHS, our more than 7,500 employees take care of our citizens across the state every day. We want them to take care of themselves, too, and that’s why the Blue & You Fitness Challenge is so important,” said John Selig, director of the Arkansas Department of Human Services. “It gives us a chance to promote healthy habits at work. Regular exercise is a good way to reduce stress, battle the sedentary nature that often accompanies working at a desk every day and improve cardiovascular health. We are proud that this Arkansas-made program has put our state in the national spotlight for promoting worksite wellness.”

“We believe programs like the Blue & You Fitness Challenge are a fun, motivational way to help begin to change lifestyles and improve overall health,” said Paul Halverson, PhDr, director of the Arkansas Department of Health and state health officer. “Current research tells us that getting more physical activity means lower health care costs for individuals and families. A study by the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement shows that health care costs are 75 percent higher for those who are obese and physically inactive compared to those who are at a healthy weight and are physically active. In today’s economy, this can mean a real difference in the quality of life for an Arkansas family. Less money spent on health care means more money for dad, mom and the kids to do the things we all enjoy. It makes good sense to exercise — better health, and more change in our pockets.”

The Employee Fitness Contest Kit, a free guide to organizing an employee exercise competition, is available in notebook and/or CD format by calling toll free, 1-800-686-2609, or by stopping by the nearest Arkansas Blue Cross regional office. The kit also may be downloaded as PDFs at any one of the following Web sites:

  • ArkansasBlueCross.com (click on “Employers” tab, then the Kit logo)
  • HealthAdvantage-hmo.com (click on “Employers” tab, then the Kit logo)
  • BlueAdvantageArkansas.com (click on “Employers” tab, then the Kit logo)

Founded in 1948, Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, is the largest health insurer in Arkansas. Arkansas Blue Cross and its affiliates have more than 2,800 employees. If combined, the 38 independent, locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans collectively provide health care coverage for 100 million — nearly one in three — Americans.

The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) is a centralized health department, operating units in each of the state’s 75 counties. County governments provide facilities and support for the clinical, environmental and home health services offered by the agency. The mission of the Department is to promote public health policies and practices that assure a healthy quality of life for Arkansans. ADH works to protect, improve and promote the health of all Arkansans with the support of more than 5,000 dedicated employees and public and private partners. During each year, Department employees monitor and investigate public health diseases and threats, provide preventive and personal health services in clinical and in-home settings, provide education and enforce laws and regulations, support Hometown Health Improvement, promote healthy behaviors, respond to public health emergencies and educate and monitor industries that impact the public’s health.

The Arkansas Department of Human Services provides a wide range of social services to more than a million Arkansas citizens each year through its programs and private providers. DHS is the largest department of the executive branch of state government. It has more than 7,000 employees a and consists of ten divisions and four support offices. DHS maintains offices in each of the state’s 75 counties where a person can apply for all the services DHS offers. Services are provided to people from all walks of life and all ages. Major programs, which fall under the Arkansas Department of Human Services, include the federal Food Stamp program and the Medicaid program, which accounts for the largest part of the department’s $4 billion annual budget.

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