Kenneth H. Cooper, MD, MPH Full Bio
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For 50 years, Kenneth H. Cooper, MD, MPH has inspired millions to exercise for good health with the release of his first best-seller Aerobics. Today Dr. Cooper is revolutionizing health and fitness again—calling on America and the world to Get Cooperized™. As a leading pioneer of preventive medicine, Dr. Cooper challenges everyone to follow these “8 Healthy Steps” to live better both sooner and later: maintain a healthy weight; make healthy food choices most of the time; exercise most days of the week; take the right supplements for you; do not use tobacco; control alcohol; manage stress; get a regular, comprehensive physical exam.
Recognized as the leader of the international physical fitness movement and credited with motivating more people to exercise in pursuit of good health than any other person, Dr. Cooper has long advocated moving the field of medicine away from disease treatment to disease prevention. The Cooper philosophy, “It is easier to maintain good health through proper exercise, diet, and emotional balance than to regain it once it is lost,” has been proven valid in scientific research.
A grandfather of five, Dr. Cooper has become passionately involved in the fight against childhood obesity both locally and globally. In Texas, Dr. Cooper was instrumental in getting physical education back in schools through the passage of Senate Bill 530 that requires enhanced PE activity levels and annual physical fitness testing using FITNESSGRAM®. Since then, The Cooper Institute has partnered with NFL Charities PLAY 60 initiative to bring FITNESSGRAM to students in more than 1,000 schools nationwide, created the Healthy Zone School program and established The Perot International Youth Data Repository containing health-related data from children worldwide. Most recently, The Cooper Institute signed a partnership agreement with the Hungarian School Sport Federation to establish a national platform for youth fitness assessment in Hungary. The new fitness test, modeled by FITNESSGRAM®, will be administered in Hungary to approximately 934,000 in 2,500 schools in 2015.
Stretching his international reach, Dr. Cooper has lectured in more than 50 countries. He is most famous in Brazil having trained the 1970 Brazilian soccer team to a World Cup victory. As a result, jogging is translated as “coopering” in Portuguese. In Hungary, the “cooperteszt” is the name of the national fitness test. In China, Dr. Cooper attended the prestigious Boao Forum in April 2013 where he served on a panel alongside the former Prime Minister of Australia and two Nobel Prize Laureates in Medicine. He had numerous interviews with CCTV and Phoenix Television, two widely watched stations in Asia discussing the benefits of preventive medicine.
March 2013 marked the 45th Anniversary of Dr. Cooper’s bestseller, Aerobics. At that time, he also coined a new word and submitted the official definition to the Oxford English Dictionary. In addition to Aerobics, which has been translated into 41 languages and Braille, Dr. Cooper has authored 18 additional books, which combined have sold more than 30 million copies. Dr. Cooper and son, Tyler Cooper, MD, MPH, released their first-ever book as a father/son team, Start Strong, Finish Strong (Avery) in 2007.
Dr. Cooper’s mark has also positively impacted the American diet. His collaboration with PepsiCo and eliminating trans fats from its Frito-Lay snack line started an international wave that other companies have followed. For three years, the back of Baked Lay’s packages included this quote from Dr. Cooper, “Fitness is a journey, not a destination. It must be continued for the rest of your life.”
During Dr. Cooper’s 13 years of service in the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force, Dr. Cooper served as a flight surgeon and director of the Aerospace Medical Laboratory in San Antonio. He dreamed of becoming an astronaut and worked with the National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA) to help create the conditioning program preparing America’s astronauts for space and in-flight anti-deconditioning program used to keep astronauts active on board spacecraft. He also developed the 12-minute and 1.5-mile fitness tests and the Aerobics Point System, used today by military organizations, amateur and professional athletic teams, law enforcement agencies and public schools and universities worldwide.
In 1970 Dr. Cooper resigned from the military to explore the relationship between cardiovascular fitness and health and longevity. He founded Cooper Aerobics Center in Dallas where he serves as Chairman of six health and wellness companies and The Cooper Institute research and education nonprofit. Dr. Cooper’s mission is shared by his son, his son, Tyler Cooper, MD, MPH, President and CEO of Cooper Aerobics, and a preventive medicine physician at Cooper Clinic, plus 600 teammates—all working together to Cooperize the world.
Dr. Cooper’s work with the Air Force and NASA launched his aerobics life work, but it was his own health crisis that made it personal. While water skiing at age 29, Dr. Cooper thought he was having a heart attack. At the hospital, his doctor told him he was simply out of shape, having gained 40 pounds and becoming inactive due to the stress of medical school. That first-hand experience catapulted the young doctor to lose weight and run his first marathon, the Boston Marathon, one year later.
Born March 4, 1931, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Dr. Cooper’s father, a periodontist, instilled in him the idea and desire to practice preventive medicine. Dr. Cooper received a Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Medicine at The University of Oklahoma and a Master of Public Health from Harvard University School of Public Health. He is certified by the American Board of Preventive Medicine.
At age 87 and having logged more than 38,000 miles running, Dr. Cooper sets an example for maintaining a healthy lifestyle by exercising at Cooper Aerobics Center on a regular basis, along with his wife, Millie, daughter, Berkley, son, Tyler, and their families—all to Get Cooperized.