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The Cooper 12 Minute Run Test

The Cooper test is used to measure a client aerobic fitness and is a predictive test of a clients VO2max. Thsi page shows you how to conduct the test.

The purpose of this This test is designed to measure a client’s aerobic fitness (the ability of their body to use oxygen pathways to produce energy while running)


Equipment required: flat oval or running track, marking cones, recording sheets, stop watch.


personal training running trackDescription / procedure: Place markers at set intervals around the track to aid in measuring the completed distance (we suggest 20metre intervals which means you’ll need 20 cones to do a 400metre track).


Participants run for 12 minutes, and the total distance covered is recorded. Walking is allowed, though the participants must be encouraged to push themselves as hard as they can.


Scoring: There are several equations that can be used to estimate VO2max (in ml/kg/min) from the distance score (a formula for either kilometres or miles):

VO2max = (35.97 x miles) - 11.29.

VO2max = (22.351 x kilometres) - 11.288


The table below also gives general guidelines for interpreting the results of this test for adults. These results are based on a few sources and are only approximate values.




Above Average


Below Average


Male 20-29






Females 20-29






Males 30-39






Females 30-39






Males 40-49






Females 40-49






Males 50+






Females 50+







Target population: This test can be modified to be suitable for most personal training clients. For those who are unfit or unable to run, there are similar walking tests that can be performed.


Validity: Cooper (1968) reported a correlation of 0.90 between direct VO2max running measures meaning this test has reasonably high validity.


Reliability: the reliability of this test would depend on the people being tested in terms of the amount of practice or experience they’ve had completing the test, their pacing strategies and their motivation level. There should be good reliability if these issues are addressed.


Advantages: large groups can be tested at once, and it is a very cheap and simple test to perform.


Disadvantages: practice and pacing is required, and performance on this test can be affected greatly by motivation.  Keeping track of a person’s lap number can be challenging when there are a lot of people so creating ‘pairs’ and having them count each others laps and then running the test a second time for the other person in the ‘pair’ is a good option.


Comments: The test can also be conducted by running on a treadmill for 12 minutes, set to level 1 (1 percent) incline to mimic outdoor running.  The validity of this test is not the same as the cooper test on the track as the treadmill is being used so the normative data (in the results table) and the VO2max prediction equations may not hold true. There are many variations of the walk/run test.

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