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Kenneth H. Cooper (born March 4, 1931, Oklahoma City)[1] is a doctor of medicine and former Air Force Colonel from Oklahoma, who pioneered the benefits of doing aerobic exercise for maintaining and improving health.[2][3] He is the author of the 1968 book Aerobics,[4][5] which emphasized a point system for improving the cardiovascular system. The popular mass market version was The New Aerobics (ISBN 0-553-26874-0), published ten years later. His points system is also the basis of the 10,000 steps per day method of maintaining adequate fitness by walking.[citation needed]


A native of Oklahoma City, Cooper completed a 13-year military career. During his Air Force career, he devised a simple test (the Cooper test, originally the distance run in 12 minutes) which correlated well with the existing concept of VO2max, and so could conveniently be used to quickly establish the fitness level of large numbers of people. He left the Air Force in 1970, when he and his wife, Millie, moved to Dallas to found the Cooper Aerobics Center.

Cooper developed the Smart Snack Ribbon guidelines put into use by the convenient fun foods division of PepsiCo, Inc., Frito-Lay.[6]

Cooper is the founder of the non-profit research and education organization, The Cooper Institute, which was opened in 1970. Cooper is also the founder of and Chairman at the Cooper Aerobics Center in Dallas and McKinney, Texas, which comprises eight health and wellness entities.[7] Cooper has published 18 books that have sold 30 million copies and been translated into 41 languages. Cooper encouraged millions into being active and helped to launch modern fitness culture. He is now known as the "father of aerobics".[8][9]

He and his wife are parents of a son and daughter. Cooper has written about the importance of Christian religious faith in his life.[10][11]

Ideas on exercise and training effect

Cooper studied the effect of exercise in the late 1960s and used the term "training effect"[12] although that term had been used before.[13][14] The measured effects were that muscles of respiration were strengthened, the heart was strengthened, blood pressure was sometimes lowered and the total amount of blood and number of red blood cells increased, making the blood a more efficient carrier of oxygen. VO2 Max was increased.[citation needed] He published his ideas in a book, "Aerobics" in 1968.

The exercise necessary can be accomplished by any aerobic exercise in a wide variety of schedules - Cooper found it best to award "points" for each amount of exercise[15] and require 30 points a week to maintain the Training Effect.[citation needed]

Cooper instead recommended a "12-minute test" (the Cooper test) followed by adherence to the appropriate starting-up schedule in his book. As always, he recommends that a physical exam should precede any exercise program.

The physiological effects of training have received much further study since Cooper's original work. It is now generally considered that effects of exercise on general metabolic rate (post-exercise) are comparatively small and the greatest effect occurs for only a few hours. Though endurance training does increase the VO2 max of many people, there is considerable variation in the degree to which it increases VO2 max between individuals.[16]


  • Aerobics (1968)
  • Run for Your Life: Aerobic Conditioning for Your Heart (1974)
  • The Aerobics Way: New Data on the World's Most Popular Exercise Program (1978)
  • The New Aerobics (1979)
  • Aerobics for Women (1982)
  • The Aerobics Program for Total Well-being: Exercise, Diet, Emotional Balance (1982, 1983)
  • Fitness for Life, 6 Audio Cassettes (1983)
  • Aerobics Program (1985)
  • Running Without Fear (1986)
  • The New Aerobics for Women (1988)
  • Preventing Osteoporosis: Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper's Preventive Medicine Program (1989)
  • Controlling Cholesterol: Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper's Preventative Medicine Program (1989)
  • Reducing Cholesterol: A Heart-Smart Guide to Low-Fat Eating (No Nonsense Health Guide) (1989)
  • Overcoming Hypertension: Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper's Preventive Medicine Program (1990)
  • Kid Fitness: a Complete Shape-up Program From Birth Through High School (1991)
  • Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper's Antioxidant Revolution (1994)
  • Its Better To Believe (1995)
  • Faith-based Fitness The Medical Program That Uses Spiritual Motivation To Achieve Maximum Health And *Add Years To Your Life (1997)
  • Antioxidant Revolution (1997)
  • Can Stress Heal? Converting A Major Health Hazard Into A Surprising Health Benefit (1998)
  • Advanced Nutritional Therapies (1998)
  • Regaining the Power of Youth at Any Age (1998)
  • Discoveries (1999)
  • Controlling Cholesterol the Natural Way Eat Your Way to Better Health With New Breakthrough Food
  • Matters of the Heart: Adventures in Sports Medicine (2007)
  • Start Strong, Finish Strong (2007)

See also

  • Aerobics
  • Bill Orban
  • Exercise
  • Exercise physiology
  • Training effect
  • Physical fitness
  • Power walking


  1. "Kenneth Cooper, MD, MPH". Cooper Aerobics Center.,-MD,-MPH.aspx. "Born March 4, 1931, in Oklahoma City" 
  2. David Levinson, Karen Christensen MacKey (1999). Encyclopedia of World Sport: From Ancient Times to the Present. Oxford University Press. pp. 2. ISBN 978-0-195-13195-6. 
  3. Duncan, Joyce (2004). Sport in American culture: from Ali to X-games. ABC-CLIO. p. 6. ISBN 978-1-57607-024-6. 
  4. Netburn, Deborah (30 March 2009). "Dr. Kenneth Cooper got a nation moving through aerobics. More than 40 years ago, his book touted a new type of exercise". Retrieved 13 June 2017. 
  5. Cooper, Kenneth H. (January 1969) [1968]. Aerobics. 14490 (revised ed.). Bantam Books. ISBN 978-0-553-14490-1. (2007-12-28). 
  6. "Snacking Now Made Easier with Frito-Lay's New Smart Snack Ribbon Label". 
  7. Louie, Elaine (12 July 1995). "At Work With: Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper; The Fit Commandment". Retrieved 13 June 2017. 
  8. ""Father of Aerobics" Kenneth Cooper, MD, MPH to receive Healthy Cup Award from Harvard School of Public Health" (in en-US). News. 2008-04-16. 
  9. "Dr. Kenneth Cooper and How He Became Known as the Father of Aerobics". Club Industry. 2008-09-01. 
  10. "Faith and Fitness Magazine Interviews the Father of Aerobics: Does Faith Based Fitness Make Sense Today". Retrieved 13 June 2017. 
  11. James MacKey (2009). A Practical and Spiritual Guide to Personal Healing: A Mind, Body, Spirit Approach. iUniverse. pp. 119. ISBN 978-0-595-45595-9. 
  12. Cooper, K. (1985). The aerobics program for total well-being: Exercise, diet, and emotional balance. Bantam. [page needed]
  13. (U.S.), National College Physical Education Association for Men (1959) (in en). Proceedings [of The Annual Meeting]. Office of Publications Services, University of Illinois at Chicago Circle. 
  14. (in en) Perceptual and Motor Skills. Perceptual and Motor Skills. 1959. 
  15. Cooper, Kenneth H. (1981). Aerobics. ISBN 978-0-553-20992-1. [page needed]
  16. Bouchard, Claude; An, Ping; Rice, Treva; Skinner, James S.; Wilmore, Jack H.; Gagnon, Jacques; Pérusse, Louis; Leon, Arthur S. et al. (September 1999). "Familial aggregation of V̇O2max response to exercise training: results from the HERITAGE Family Study". pp. 1003–8. PMID 10484570. 

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