The Running Fitness Test - or 12-Minute Cooper Test was developed by Dr Kenneth Cooper, in 1968, as an easy way to measure aerobic fitness and provide a VO2 max estimate for staff military. The Cooper's test , as it is also called, is still used today as a field test to determine aerobic capacity.
Dr Cooper found that there is a very strong correlation between the distance a person can run (or walk) in 12 minutes and their VO2 max value, which measures how efficiently a person can use oxygen during exercise. This test is still one of the basic physical fitness tests used by the military.
It is also used by many coaches and trainers to determine cardiovascular capacity and track changes in fitness over time. This simple test also allows you to compare your cardiovascular endurance to that of others your age and gender.
What is cardiovascular endurance?
In sports, cardiovascular endurance refers to an athlete's ability to sustain prolonged exercise for minutes, hours, or even days.
Endurance testing measures the effectiveness of an athlete's circulatory and respiratory system in delivering oxygen to working muscles and supporting sustained physical activity.
Endurance generally refers to aerobic endurance. Aerobic exercise requires oxygen to help provide the energy needed for exercise. The goal of endurance training, therefore, is to develop and improve the bodily systems that produce and supply the energy needed to meet the demands of prolonged activity.
How do I perform the 12-minute run test?
The Cooper 12-Minute Run Test asks the person being tested to run or walk as far as possible for a period of 12 minutes.
The objective of the test is to measure the maximum distance traveled by the individual during this 12-minute period1. It is usually performed on a running track by placing cones at different distances to help measure the distance.
A stopwatch is needed to ensure that the individual is running for the correct amount of time. Here are some factors to keep in mind when performing Cooper's 12-Minute Run Test:
- Distance: Record the total number of miles or kilometers you have traveled in 12 minutes.
- Equipment: You will need a stopwatch to know when the 12 minutes are up. Note that some running watches and fitness trackers have a 12-minute test mode.
- Venue: This test is designed to be performed on a track with clearly marked distance. You can perform the test on a treadmill, but be sure to increase the incline by one degree to simulate running outdoors.
- Safety: This is an intense fitness test and it is recommended that you get your doctor's clearance before performing this test on your own.
- Speed: When you're warmed up, go for it. Run or walk as far as you can in 12 minutes.
- Warm-up: Perform a short warm-up of 10-15 minutes of light to moderate intensity activity before performing a fitness test.
Calculating your 12-minute run test results
To calculate your estimated VO2 Max results (in ml/kg/min), use one of the following formulas:
- Kilometers: VO2max = (22.351 x kilometers) - 11.288
- Miles: VO2max = (35.97 x miles) - 11.291
The easiest way to get your test results (your VO2 max score) and compare yourself to others your age and gender is to use a 12 minute online test result calculator .
After taking the test, you can compare your results to the standards and recommendations for your age and gender.
12 Minute Cooper Test Results
Instead of using the math and getting your VO2 max, you can use the distance you've walked to get your score.