Living well is encouraged at Chesapeake Energy Corp., an Oklahoma City-based oil and gas company, and doing so can result in up to $1,500 for employees. Chesapeake Energy offers a Living Well corporate fitness program to its 9,000 employees nationwide. The program has four parts to it, and individual success in those four areas can equal a $1,500 payout to employees.

The company's 50-acre corporate campus in Oklahoma City hosts a 72,000-square-foot fitness facility that employs 15 full-time employees and 30 contracted trainers and instructors, says Bryan Jackson, Living Well coordinator at the Chesapeake Energy Fitness Center.

The voluntary Living Well program encourages employees to actively participate in their health and well-being through regular exercise and health screenings.

“Definitely most employees are pretty appreciative to be working for this type of company,” Jackson says. “A lot of people say when they started they didn't know how out of shape they'd become, and now they have better focus at work.”

He says studies show that employees who participate in corporate wellness programs have fewer accidents on the job, take fewer sick days and benefit from lower insurance premiums.

“Corporate fitness is all about prevention,” he notes.

The four areas of the program are participation, physical activity, “know your numbers” and healthy body weight. Participation includes attendance at health and wellness activities, such as educational lunch-and-learns. The physical activity portion has two options for employees — either exercise for 30 minutes a day, three days per week in the company's fitness center, or walk 10,000 steps, five days a week. Know your numbers includes screenings for blood pressure, total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides and glucose. Healthy body weight is gauged by an employee's body mass index.

Participants earn Living Well points throughout the program, which runs from January to November, by participating in various programs and activities. Jackson says this well-rounded approach helps employees succeed in losing weight and improving their health.

“We have a comprehensive program,” he says. “If you just do one area, you could be missing a whole population — the more comprehensive, the better.”

This is the fifth year Chesapeake has offered the program. In the first year, 800 employees participated, but this year, almost 6,000 participate. In 2009, 46 percent of participating employees attained a healthy body weight, and 1,083 of the 5,255 participating employees that year received the $1,500 bonus. The company paid out around $1.62 million in wellness bonuses during 2009.

Although the bonus numbers may seem surprising, Chesapeake is a natural gas and oil company that posted a net income of $590 million on $2.8 billion in revenue for the first quarter of 2010. The company ranks No. 34 this year on Fortune magazine's list of 100 Best Companies to Work For and was recognized on Computerworld's annual list of Best Places to Work in IT. In addition, WomansDay.com named Chesapeake as one of the 9 Companies with the Best Perks, saying it goes “above and beyond standard benefits.”

Jackson says the company's fitness benefits serve as a recruiting tool for potential employees.

The success of the Living Well program is that it offers something for all levels of fitness and allows employees to learn as they go along, Jackson says.

“Some people are intimidated by gyms,” Jackson says. “In our program, there's something for everyone and all fitness levels.”

And the chance to earn an extra $1,500 per year doesn't hurt either.