The Cooper Institute

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


Letter from the Board Chairman & President

Posted in

Tuesday, Dec 15, 2020

Dear Friends, 

As our team sat down to reflect upon the year and began to outline The Cooper Institute — Community Impact Report, a single word kept coming to the forefront. The word is “SHIFT” which became the theme for this report. The Cooper Institute is celebrating its 50th Anniversary. In 1970, Dr. Cooper established The Cooper Institute to undertake research in preventative health. It took 19 years to prove that exercise is medicine! In 1989, after his research showed that fitness improves longevity, the world SHIFTed and realized physical activity was important for good health. 

This past year has been unique for The Cooper Institute and the world. In the summer of 2019, we had amazing opportunities for our world SHIFTing prevention research and youth fitness programs. The research team was hard at work exploring important public health questions related to preventive care to support a healthier nation.

One critical finding was that being fit remains important for long and healthy lives, even in this era of advanced cardiovascular procedures and effective medications (Journal of the American College of Cardiology 2020). 

Simply put, you cannot just stop exercising and take a pill to attain good health. The Cooper Institute held it's Second Annual Prevention Research Summit in September 2019 with world-renowned researchers from prestigious institutions around the country including Harvard and Stanford Universities. In November, The Cooper Institute brought together champions of youth wellness to celebrate the NFL Foundation receiving the Legacy Award, represented by Charlotte Jones. Betsy Price, Mayor of Fort Worth, was the recipient of the Well. Hero Award. Together, we all strive to raise active, fit, and healthy children!  

In the spring, we had big plans for the celebration of our 50th Anniversary. March Forth! to Oklahoma for Capitol Day in support of physical education and fitness assessment. A dazzling roll out of new music for FitnessGram, our school-based fitness assessment tool, hosted by Run DMC at the Star in Frisco. A fun run in honor of Orville Rogers. The Third Annual Meyer Lecture Series featuring Troy Aikman.

We made it to Oklahoma and then, everything SHIFTED.

Our team took stock from a public health perspective and quickly realized that the impact of this pandemic on the pre-existing obesity epidemic could be profound. We pivoted and worked towards helping to alleviate the effects of COVID-19 on our world.  

In April, we surveyed teachers and found that 79% of their students were engaging in substantially less physical activity. Numbers like this would only worsen the obesity epidemic. This pushed The Cooper Institute to use our resources, partnerships, and more to work towards ensuring we stood up and helped with all our physical activity and wellness might.

With the support of our partners, the NFL Foundation and the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, we were able to provide at-home physical activity resources to help kids stay healthy and fit during the pandemic. In the upcoming months, we will continue to release research and resources to keep America moving.

The last year certainly reminded all of us of the importance of teamwork, public health, and prevention. We continue to embrace the word SHIFT. As a research institute, we question the unknown and chart the course to evaluate important public health measures in the years to come. The Youth team continues to work with our school, legislative, and family partners to ensure that physical education and physical activity remain in the forefront to keep students active and fit.  

We are grateful for your support of The Cooper Institute and wish that all are Well. Into the Future.


Tedd Mitchell, MD
Chairman, Board of Trustees, 
The Cooper Institute


Laura F. DeFina, MD, FACP
President and CEO, 
The Cooper Institute

  Read: 2019 - 2020 Community Impact Report - SHIFT