The Cooper Institute

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


The Future of Wellness Since 1970.

Posted in

Thursday, Dec 17, 2020

Pictured Above: Tyler Corp. chairman Joe McKinney (right) competed in the Tyler Cup track meet at the Cooper Aerobics Center in Dallas in 1992. (Michael Ainsworth - DMN File)

In 1968, Joe McKinney, President of the Tyler Corporation in Dallas, read Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper’s newly published book “Aerobics” and invited him to speak to the Tyler Corporation executives. Encouraged by the support of the Tyler Corporation, Dr. Cooper decided to retire from the Air Force and build an aerobics institute in Dallas. 

What started with Dr. Cooper collecting information on index cards has now shifted into a study with a database containing 2.5 gigabytes of unprecedented, priceless data. 

The Cooper Center Longitudinal Study (CCLS) is the largest and longest longitudinal study in the world with measured fitness. The study gives researchers access to extensive laboratory results, body fat analysis, bone density measures, nutritional profiles, CT scans, and treadmill tests. 

The Cooper Institute’s landmark study, published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in 1989, showed the association between being fit and lower mortality. Research from the CCLS continues to evaluate the benefits of regular exercise, healthy lifestyle, and preventive healthcare effectively proving again and again that exercise truly is medicine.

115,000 Participants in the Cooper Center Longitudinal study with more than 3,000 variables per visit including Cardiorespiratory fitness.

In 1970, Dr. Kenneth Cooper penned the charter document and vision for The Cooper Institute with five points. In addition to understanding the benefits of physical activity, his last point addressed children and physical fitness. 

He had the foresight to know that school children would be at risk for the inherent health problems of an affluent society. He believed that  this would require efforts to improve the effectiveness of physical education in an attempt to educate, motivate, and prepare school children for this risk.


The Cooper Institute has been an ardent supporter of youth physical activity and fitness assessment. With partners, including the NFL Foundation and the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, the Cooper Institute has developed school-based programming to address the obesity epidemic.

Our NFL Play 60 FitnessGram Project has shown that Play 60 programming decreases body weight and increases fitness in schools in which it was used.

COVID-19 has disrupted all of our lives, but our youth have experienced the greatest SHIFTS. 

The transition to online learning and an absence of routine daily physical activity are just some of the challenges our students have faced as schools nationwide have shut down during the pandemic. Research has shown that exercise is an important part of preventing and treating adolescent depression – something that our children are facing in the wake of social distancing and uncertainty 
about their future.

While we don’t know what the next fifty years hold, we do know that The Cooper Institute will continue to promote life-long health and wellness through research and education.

  Read: 2019 - 2020 Community Impact Report - SHIFT