The Cooper Institute

Founded in 1970 by the "Father of Aerobics"
Kenneth H. Cooper MD, MPH


The Cooper Institute Texas Legislative Agenda

Written by
Amber Freeland
Posted in

Thursday, Feb 28, 2019

The 2019 Texas Legislature is in full swing, and The Cooper Institute is keeping a close eye on all things related to health and wellness. Founded in Dallas in 1970, The Cooper Institute has a vested interest in the health of our home state.

Our research shows the long-range physical, mental and economic impact of poor health. While Texas is thriving economically, surging healthcare costs could change that trajectory for everyone if we don’t act now to improve public health statewide.

We must ensure that we are building the workforce of the future - one that is highly skilled and productive.

The solution? Improve the health and wellness of our children today so they can become healthy, productive workers tomorrow.

Nearly 40 percent of adults and 20 percent of school-aged children are obese in the United States. Here in Texas, it’s 33 percent for adults and 15 percent, respectively, making us the 14th most obese state in the country. But according to the recent Beyond ABC report by Children’s Health, obesity rates for students in Dallas County have gone down by 29 percent since 2014, proving that change can happen.

Even more alarming are the rising rates of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, arthritis and obesity-related cancer - all conditions that can be prevented, delayed or managed with regular exercise and improved eating habits. Fitness can also help ward off mental health issues that obese children are more likely to suffer from like social isolation, depression and lower self-esteem.

Texas is one of six states that require the use of FitnessGram by The Cooper Institute to assess the overall physical health of its students. Additionally, FitnessGram is the national test of the Presidential Youth Fitness Program, measuring the fitness levels of over 10 million students across the country in nearly 20,000 schools. Our goal is to have FitnessGram adopted by all 50 states to improve student fitness across the country.

Recently, FitnessGram has seen some significant upgrades. Our new student reports make it easy for families to understand what is being measured and gives an overall picture of a student’s physical health. We also offer FitnessGram materials in both English and Spanish, helping us reach students and families across increasingly diverse backgrounds.

“Assessment tools like FitnessGram give us the data on their progress so we can make the best instructional decisions for our students’ health,” said Dr. Michael Hinojosa, superintendent of Dallas ISD in a recent interview with The Cooper Institute in the Dallas Business Journal. “There is no doubt in our minds that whole-child health leads to whole-child success. We must focus our efforts on making our children healthier and more active.

But it isn’t just about health; it’s about success.

Research from The Cooper Institute and other entities show that students who are physically fit perform better in school, have higher reading and math scores, fewer behavioral problems and miss fewer days of school.

That means that our students will be more successful in academics and in life.

The Cooper Institute supports all initiatives to keep or improve physical education at every grade level. The new Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that children six and older should have at least 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity as well as muscle and bone strengthening activities. Unfortunately, physical education and activity time is not consistently offered in every school district or at every grade level.

On March 4, The Cooper Institute will March Forth to the Capitol to show the 86th Texas Legislature the importance of building a healthier generation.


This is also the birthday of our founder, Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper, who pioneered aerobic research and led Texas to be the first state to accept FitnessGram as the statewide student fitness assessment.

Our vision is to continue using evidence-based research from FitnessGram to improve student health and put them on track for a lifetime of healthy habits.

For nearly 50 years, The Cooper Institute has proven through scientific research that exercise improves health across the lifespan.

Our research has helped shape policy and changed lives, but the fight isn’t over. By improving student health today, we will ensure that Texas children are the healthy, productive, and highly-skilled workers of tomorrow and WELL. Into the Future.

Our strong Texas economy has been a beacon for corporate relocations across the state. But if we want to continue this growth, we have to make sure our workforce is prepared for the highly-skilled jobs of the future. Our workers are on track to be less healthy, less educated and less competitive, making our businesses less productive and profitable.

To combat this and mitigate rising healthcare costs, we must make health and wellness a top priority.  Research from The Cooper Institute and other academic bodies show that student fitness directly correlates to student success. It makes sense then that lawmakers and business leaders should embrace policies that promote fitness and incentivize healthy habits today to build a healthier generation tomorrow. 

Bob S. Shapard, The Cooper Institute Advocacy Chairperson, Oncor, Board of Directors Chairman

The Cooper Institute Fit for the Future Top Priorities

  • Preserve and advocate for comprehensive physical fitness assessments and evaluation statewide in all public schools.    
  • Ensure public/private funding is secured for implementation and sustainability of statewide physical fitness assessments. 
  • Strengthen quality physical education standards at the federal, state and local level. 
  • Preserve and promote evidence-based curriculum that enhances physical education and health programs in public schools.
  • Explore opportunities to advance The Cooper Institute’s research, science and programs to positively impact the wellbeing of children and adults through public health policies.  

Read More about The Cooper Institute in the recent Cooper Quarterly Newsletter