How will you know how well you are doing from a fitness perspective without the proper feedback? Sure you may feel better, look better and have more energy, but it always helps to have an objective measure of feedback. The Cooper Test, developed in 1968 by Dr. Ken Cooper, is still a relevant and simple tool that you can use today to measure your current level of aerobic fitness, which is described in scientific terms as your VO2 Max. This tool is trusted to the extent that coaches and trainers of high-level athletes still use this method.

How to Perform

Performing the Cooper test is extremely simple. The only equipment that you need is a stopwatch. You will also need a way to measure the specific distance that you run. For optimum accuracy, this test may be best performed at a track. However, if you have a phone with GPS, you can use an app, such as Nike+ to accurately measure your distance. Another option is to measure your distance with your car’s odometer after your run.

The Test: Your goal is to run/walk as far as you can in a 12 minute time period. The key is to try to pace yourself as best as you can and avoid stopping at all costs. If you happen to start to fast, it is okay to slow you pace or walk. In order to have the most accurate test, you won’t to make sure that you are nearly 100% fatigued at the end of the 12-minute run. Remember, the further you run, the higher your estimated level of aerobic fitness will be.

 After Your Test

After your test, you must calculate your distance with your method of choice. Then, you these equations to figure out your maximum oxygen consumption, or VO2 max during your run:

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

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

Compare your results to this chart by Top End Sports

Finally, you should know that quite a bit of research has been performed on this method of estimating your fitness levels. Across multiple studies, the Cooper Test has been found to be fairly reliable and valid.

As always, because this is a strenuous test, make sure you have clearance from your doctor if necessary. You may also want to perform a light 5 minute warm-up to prevent injury.

Feel free to share your results or experiences below!