Cooper 12 Minute Run Test

Read our guide to learn about the Cooper 12-Minute Run Test, which assesses aerobic fitness. Get our free template for accurate testing and tracking results.

By Nate Lacson on Jul 15, 2024.


Fact Checked by Ericka Pingol.

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What is the Cooper 12-Minute Run Test?

The Cooper 12-Minute Run Test, created by Dr. Kenneth Cooper in 1968, is a simple yet effective way to test aerobic fitness and assessing maximal oxygen intake (also known as VO2 max). Originally designed for US Air Force officers, the test has gained widespread use across various fields, including endurance sports and fitness coaching (Farrell, 2018).

The test involves running or walking as far as possible within 12 minutes, with the distance covered serving as an indicator of the individual's aerobic capacity. This test is not only a quick assessment of cardiovascular health but also allows for the monitoring of training progress over time, making it popular among coaches and trainers for athlete evaluation and exercise training for clients of all ages.

The test measures a person's total distance covered in 12 minutes, assessing maximal oxygen uptake. This measurement is crucial as it has a very high correlation to the efficiency of oxygen use in the body, directly linking to overall aerobic fitness.

How to perform the Cooper 12-Minute Run Test

The Cooper 12-Minute Run is a simple test and can be administered almost anywhere—it can be done on an outdoor running track or in a gym with a treadmill. You will also need a stopwatch, but you can use your phone's stopwatch app. Here's how to do it:

  1. Allow the test-taker to warm up for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Once the test taker is ready, start the stopwatch and make the test-taker run for 12 minutes at the field or on a treadmill at 1% grade incline to mimic outdoor running.
  3. At the end of the 12 minutes, stop the stopwatch immediately and record the completed distance.
  4. Allow the test-taker 10-15 minutes to cool down.

Scoring and interpretation of the Cooper 12-Minute Run Test

The distance traveled by the test-taker is scored depending on the test-taker's gender and age group. As such, a 20-year-old female athlete will be measured up to different standards than a 70-year-old male client. For example, a 1.35-mile run in 12 minutes is considered superior for a 70-year-old man, while it is only considered fair for a 20-year-old woman (Why I Exercise, n.d.). Our template contains the complete distance-score tables for interpreting results, which also includes a survival rate.

During the run, it will help to remind the test-taker to maintain proper form and to pace themselves in order to cover as much distance as possible. Encourage them to perform at their limit but avoid overexertion.

In addition, remind them it would be better to maintain a constant speed and only use up all their energy in the last 3 or 4 minutes; if the test-taker starts with explosive speed, they might run out of breath before the 12 minutes are up, which might affect the accuracy of the results. After all, the test is to see how far they can travel, not how fast they can run.

How to use the Cooper 12-Minute Run Test template

To use our template, follow these steps:

  1. Access this template: Download our Cooper 12-Minute Run Test template from our website or via the Carepatron app. You can edit and share the template via the app, too!
  2. Explain the test: Before starting, explain the test procedures to the test-taker and ensure they understand each step.
  3. Perform the test: Conduct the test as outlined, using the template to record distance and any additional notes.
  4. Document the results: Accurately document the Cooper test results and compare them with the provided scoring standards for assessment.

By following these steps and using our template, you can effectively assess aerobic fitness and track progress over time.

Advantages and disadvantages of the 12-Minute Cooper Test

The Cooper 12-Minute Run Test is a straightforward and easy-to-administer method for assessing cardiovascular fitness and estimating VO2 max. It can be conducted with minimal equipment—a stopwatch and a track—making it accessible for field and treadmill testing, whether it be in professional athletic facilities to school sports fields. Additionally, it provides a quick way to gauge an individual's aerobic endurance and track fitness improvements over time, offering valuable data for fitness coaches, sports coaches, and healthcare professionals.

However, the 12-minute duration may be challenging for individuals with poor stamina or underlying health conditions, potentially limiting its applicability in some populations. Furthermore, while the test offers a good estimate of VO2 max, it is less precise compared to the Cooper 1.5 Mile Run Test. The longer duration and potential for pacing variability can affect the accuracy of the results, making the 1.5 Mile Run Test preferable option for more precise measurements of cardiovascular fitness.


Farrell, S. (2018, June 8). 50 years of the cooper 12-minute run. Cooper Institute.

Why I Exercise. (n.d.). Cooper test: The most accurate VO2 max self-test. Run your best time! Retrieved June 7, 2024, from

What is the Cooper's 12-Minute Run Test?
What is the Cooper's 12-Minute Run Test?

Commonly asked questions

What is the Cooper's 12-Minute Run Test?

The Cooper's 12-Minute Run Test is a fitness assessment created by Dr. Kenneth Cooper to measure aerobic fitness by determining the distance a person can run or walk in 12 minutes.

What is a good distance for a 12-minute run?

What can be a considered a good distance depends on the age and gender of the test-taker. A good distance for an 18 year old male is over 1.9 miles for males and over 1.78 miles for females, which indicates superior cardiovascular fitness.

How hard is the Cooper Test?

The Cooper Test can be challenging, as it requires sustained aerobic effort for 12 minutes, pushing participants to cover as much distance as possible. Since performance is affected greatly by endurance, body weight, and form, it is a good measure of cardiorespiratory fitness level.

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