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The Cooper 12-Minute Run Fitness Test Explained

Dec 21, 2009

The Cooper 12 minute run test is a popular field test used for measuring aerobic fitness. Developed in 1968 by Dr Ken Cooper, this fitness test was initially used to estimate the VO2max of military personnel. Dr Cooper discovered that there was a high correlation between a person's VO2max value and the distance they can run or walk. This test is still very popular in the military as it is used for determining basic fitness. Over the years, it has also been used by trainers and coaches to verify track and cardiovascular fitness.

Procedure of the Test

The Cooper 12 minute run fitness test requires little equipment. Marking cones, a stopwatch and an oval running track is sufficient to conduct the test. You will need to set the cones at specific intervals from each other, depending on your preference. Ensure the intervals are measured as you will require the total distance to measure VO2max. When the track has been set up, you can start running around it. The objective of this test is to run or walk as much as you can in the 12 minute period.

How to Calculate Your Score

It is best to have a coach or trainer present so they can record the time for you. At the end of 12 minutes the test is stopped, and the covered distance is measured. You should record the distance travelled in those 12 minutes in miles or kilometers. With the obtained result, you can calculate your VO2max level using the following formulas.

VO2max = (35.97 x miles) - 11.29 (in miles)

VO2max = (22.351 x kilometers) - 11.288 (in kilometers)

You can also compare your test results with the recommendations and norms of others in the same age and gender category as you. Remember that fitness levels for men and women are different.

The Cooper 12 minute run fitness test is an extremely advantageous fitness test. This is because it can be modified to suit all populations. As the result from this test is based on the length of time, you can run as well as walk during the allotted time. One of the biggest advantages of this test is that it can be performed by several people simultaneously. In addition to this, it is fairly inexpensive as it requires little equipment. Studies have shown that the Cooper 12 minute run fitness test is quite reliable. But the level of reliability also depends on pacing strategies, motivation level and practice. The reliability of this test also depends on how strictly the test is conducted.

The Cooper 12 minute run fitness test can be quite strenuous. For this reason, it is important that you get clearance by your physician before performing it. A short warm up of approximately 10-15 minutes before beginning is a must. Keep the warm up light as you are sure to get tired during the test. Stretching your muscles well before starting will be vital to the test. Once you are warmed up properly, the Cooper 12 minute run fitness test should commence.

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