a group of kids riding bikes on a path in a garden

About Us

We are The Cooper Institute, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded by Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper in June 1970. Around Dallas, you may know us as "the nonprofit founded by the Father of Aerobics" or "the nonprofit located at the corner of Preston and Churchill with the big campus." While we are both of those things, at our core, we are the nonprofit dedicated to promoting lifelong health and wellness through research and education. We are focused on preventive medicine and helping you and all whom you love to live Well. Into the Future.

About Us

Our Story

A study being conducted at The Cooper Institute in black and white

The Beginning:

On June 22, 1970, Dr. Cooper founded The Cooper Institute to explore the relationship between fitness and wellness. At the time, many thought exercise was dangerous. Dr. Cooper, however, knew scientific research was the only way to turn skeptics to believers. In December 1970, he started the Cooper Center Longitudinal Study (CCLS) at The Cooper Institute, where he began collecting data to show how physical activity helped prevent many chronic diseases. What began as data on index cards stored in a shoe box is now the world's largest and longest-running study on measured fitness.

Who We Are Today:

In five decades, we have evolved and proven the impact of regular physical activity and fitness on overall wellness throughout all stages of life. Our research and programs have focused across all stages of life-advocating for people of all backgrounds to embrace the importance of exercise. In addition to the CCLS research, our youth initiatives—FitnessGram®, NFL PLAY 60 FitnessGram Project and Healthy Zone School Program—educate our youngest generation about the benefits of exercise, helping prevent chronic diseases later in life.

"We have so much data now that you cannot deny that exercise is medicine" - Dr. Cooper

Where We Are Headed:

While we have come a long way, our work is far from over. As we look to the years ahead, we know chronic conditions such as obesity, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, dementia and more will continue to plague the world. As health advocates, our goal is to create a world where everyone lives long, healthy lives. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, we will pursue goals that help us all live Well. Into the Future:

  1. Continue to support the world-renowned CCLS as our research team explores the best ways to maintain memory and brain health throughout the lifespan, as well as decrease cardiovascular disease, cancer and mortality for years to come.
  2. Continue our prevention research to define the optimal lifestyle factors and encourage more Americans to be active, maintain a healthy weight, sleep well, and manage stress - all in pursuit of healthy aging.
  3. Continue to ensure every child in every state has access to quality physical education and fitness assessment to promote lifelong health.

Our Five Founding Objectives

The Cooper Institute was established by Dr. Cooper with these five objectives guiding everything we've accomplished from day one.


By means of sequential testing and the establishment of a data repository, conduct longitudinal research to determine objectively the role exercise plays in the preventive and rehabilitative aspect of heart, lung, and blood vessel diseases.


Study normal versus diseased patients, untrained versus highly trained athletes, regardless of age or sex, in an effort to more clearly determine the physiological effects of aerobic conditioning in health and disease.


Conduct in-house projects and support contractual research studies evaluating the immediate and the long-term effects of various levels and types of exercise.


Extensively study the occasional undesirable or untoward effect of exercise, eg., jogging deaths, in an attempt to determine the cause and the prevention of such occurrences.


Initiate studies with various ages of school children in an effort to improve the effectiveness of physical education programs in an attempt to educate, motivate and prepare school children for the inherent health problems of an affluent society.

The Cooper Institute promotes lifelong health and wellness through research and education.

The Cooper Institute helps create a world where everyone understands the positive impact regular physical activity has on life-long health and wellness. We aspire to turn knowledge into action so that...

Our communities are prepared to make small changes in their daily lives to live well and enhance their quality and quantity of life;

Everyone knows how to be a health advocate for themselves, their families and their communities;

Every child in every state has quality physical education and fitness assessment.

Integrity: At The Cooper Institute, ethics are not optional. We are dedicated to using our resources responsibly.

Respect: In all we do, we respect one another. We respect and celebrate diverse ideas and people with different backgrounds and experiences than ourselves.

Teamwork: The Cooper Institute seeks productive partnerships and shares in success and challenges with our partners and teammates.

Leadership: We promote healthy lifestyles for all, and we lead by example.

Knowledge: At The Cooper Institute, knowledge is our greatest asset. Our work can make a difference in the quality of life for many, and we believe knowledge is the first step to achieving a healthy lifestyle.

Excellence: From our research to our youth programs, we strive for excellence in all we do.

Our life-changing research and youth programs could not continue without our generous donors. We offer a variety of giving opportunities and ways to get involved. Whether it's donating money, time or resources, we are grateful for all you do to help us continue changing the world through research and education.

To learn more about how you can help support our mission and get involved, click here.

The Cooper Institute Team

The Team

The Cooper Institute team is diverse and unique, but there is one thing we all have in common: we believe in our mission and are proud of the work we do daily.

Meet Our Team

Board of Trustees

Our Board of Trustees is made up of individuals that are passionate about life-long health and wellness. They oversee our strategic direction and fiscal health.

Meet Our Board
The Cooper Institute Board of Trustees
The Cooper Institute Scientific Advisory Board

Scientific Advisory Board (SAB)

Our Scientific Advisory Board plays a critical role in our research. The SAB includes some of the most brilliant minds and subject matter experts in the fields of epidemiology, preventive and clinical medicine, and exercise science. These experts guide and support our research direction.

Meet Our SAB

FitnessGram Advisory Board (FAB)

The FAB plays a vital role in the sustainability and credibility of the FitnessGram assessment. The FAB includes preeminent thought leaders and authorities in the fields of kinesiology, exercise physiology, pedagogy, health education and epidemiology.

Meet Our FAB
The Cooper Institute FitnessGram Advisory Board

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