- In the original form, the point of the test is to run as far as possible within 12 minutes.
- The test is meant to measure the condition of the person taking it and therefore it is supposed to be run at a steady pace instead of sprints and fast running.
- The outcome is based on the distance the test person ran, their age and their sex.
- The results can be correlated with VO2 Max.
where d12 is distance (in metres) covered in 12 minutes, alternatively
where d12 is distance (in miles) covered in 12 minutes,
- It is an easy test to perform on larger groups.
- For athletes, the length of the run is considered to be that of a long distance run, since everything above 3 km is rated "long distance"—which means the runner will predominately use his/her "red", slow oxidative muscle cells.
The following is an example of the many tables that exist for the test:
|Age||M/F||Very good||Good||Average||Bad||Very bad|
|13-14||M||2700+ m||2400 - 2700 m||2200 - 2399 m||2100 - 2199 m||2100- m|
|F||2000+ m||1900 - 2000 m||1600 - 1899 m||1500 - 1599 m||1500- m|
|15-16||M||2800+ m||2500 - 2800 m||2300 - 2499 m||2200 - 2299 m||2200- m|
|F||2100+ m||2000 - 2100 m||1700 - 1999 m||1600 - 1699 m||1600- m|
|17-20||M||3000+ m||2700 - 3000 m||2500 - 2699 m||2300 - 2499 m||2300- m|
|F||2300+ m||2100 - 2300 m||1800 - 2099 m||1700 - 1799 m||1700- m|
|20-29||M||2800+ m||2400 - 2800 m||2200 - 2399 m||1600 - 2199 m||1600- m|
|F||2700+ m||2200 - 2700 m||1800 - 2199 m||1500 - 1799 m||1500- m|
|30-39||M||2700+ m||2300 - 2700 m||1900 - 2299 m||1500 - 1899 m||1500- m|
|F||2500+ m||2000 - 2500 m||1700 - 1999 m||1400 - 1699 m||1400- m|
|40-49||M||2500+ m||2100 - 2500 m||1700 - 2099 m||1400 - 1699 m||1400- m|
|F||2300+ m||1900 - 2300 m||1500 - 1899 m||1200 - 1499 m||1200- m|
|50+||M||2400+ m||2000 - 2400 m||1600 - 1999 m||1300 - 1599 m||1300- m|
|F||2200+ m||1700 - 2200 m||1400 - 1699 m||1100 - 1399 m||1100- m|
|Gender||Very good||Good||Average||Bad||Very bad|
|Male||3700+ m||3400 - 3700 m||3100 - 3399 m||2800 - 3099 m||2800- m|
|Female||3000+ m||2700 - 3000 m||2400 - 2699 m||2100 - 2399 m||2100- m|
For practical use, precise monitoring presents a challenge. Not all military bases have a running track, and tracking soldiers' laps and positions after 12 minutes is difficult. Testing is easier to administer when the distance is fixed and the finishing time measured. In his original book Dr. Cooper also provided an alternate version of the test, based on the time to complete a 1.5 mile run.
Most armies and police agencies of the world use a fixed distance. This is not exactly a Cooper test but a reasonable practical compromise as long as the distance is of sufficient length to put a continuous load on the cardiovascular system for 10+ minutes. For example, the British Army uses 1.5 miles, the Australian Army uses 2.4 kilometers, the US Army uses 2 miles and the US Marine Corps 3 miles. For each base the course is measured and local corrections (elevation, conditions, etc.) applied. Soldiers are sent off in waves, and timed over the finish line by some PTIs with a stopwatch.
For personal trainers, the Cooper Test, when carried out on a treadmill, is a reliable and repeatable method for measuring a client's progress.
As a standard test this test should to be performed only under standard conditions:
- Between 50 and 75° F (10 to 25°C) with 75% maximum humidity.
- On a standard 400 m tartan track or similar.
- The candidate should not suffer from respiratory problems.
The test is not considered to be useful for untrained pupils at all.
Use of Cooper Test for football referees
Cooper test was one of the most commonly used fitness tests to measure the fitness levels of both amateur and professional football referees; including referees from the FA (English Football Association). However, in recent times, many countries have decided to abort the use of the Cooper Test. They claim that the Cooper test does not relate to a real football match, where players run short sprints rather than at a regular pace, and therefore, does not truly indicate if a referee will be able to perform well in a football match. As such, all FIFA referees are now required to pass the HI Intensity Fitness Test. Many countries are slowly requiring some of their top National officials to do the HI Intensity Fitness Test as well. Lower level referees are often given a choice to either perform the HI Intensity Fitness Test or the Cooper Test. Nevertheless, the recent trend seems to indicate that the Cooper Test is slowly being phased out.
- Cooper, Kenneth H. (January 1969). Aerobics. Bantam Books. ISBN 978-0-553-14490-1.
- Library of the Heidelberg University: Evaluation of the COOPER-Tests from a performance-physiological perspective Retrieved 3 July 2014
- Bartha, C. et, al. (Jan 2009). "Fitness test results of Hungarian and international-level soccer referees and assistants". The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
- Park, Madison (4 June 2010). "World Cup referees outrun players". CNN.com. Retrieved 27 July 2012.
- Morrison, Jim (22 June 2010). "How to Train a World Cup Referee". Smithsonian.com. Retrieved 27 July 2012.