The Cooper Institute

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


Study shows cardiorespiratory fitness and LDL are predictors of coronary heart disease.

DALLAS (December 10, 2012) — A new study from The Cooper Institute, in collaboration with UT Southwestern Medical Center’s  Center for Human Nutrition, shows that cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) and LDL cholesterol are both predictors of coronary heart disease in men.
Authors of the study, which is included in the November issue of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, include Stephen W. Farrell, Ph.D. and Carrie E. Finley, M.S. of The Cooper Institute and Scott M. Grundy, MD, MPH, director of UT Southwestern’s Center for Human Nutrition.
The study was conducted among 40,718 healthy men with an average age of 45 years. Participants completed baseline examinations at The Cooper Clinic™ in Dallas between 1971 and 2006 and were placed into groups of low, moderate, and high CRF levels, which was determined by using a maximal treadmill exercise test. The exam also included an assessment of LDL cholesterol level, as well as other variables.
The group was tracked for an average of 17 years. During that time, 557 men died from CHD. Not surprisingly, both fitness and LDL were each very strong and independent predictors of death. Regardless of LDL level, the greatest risk of death was seen in low fit men. Interestingly, among all men with optimal levels of LDL, low fit men were nearly three times more likely to die from CHD than moderate or high fit men with optimal LDL levels.
“Low fitness levels are highly prevalent in the United States today, contributing to increased disease risk and mortality among the population,” said Farrell. “Our study proves that  higher CRF levels reduce the  risk of coronary heart disease death.  Based on our results, doctors and other health care professionals need to spend at least as much time counseling patients on fitness about physical activity as they spend counseling patients on LDL cholesterol levels.”
Previous work with these study participants has shown again and again that fitness trumps fatness as a predictor of various health outcomes. “We found that both fitness levels and LDL cholesterol levels are strong predictors of how high a patient’s risk is for coronary heart disease,” said Dr. Grundy. “It’s important that both be taken into account when assessing ways to lower patients’ cardiovascular disease risk.”
About The Cooper Institute
Established in 1970 by Kenneth H. Cooper, MD, MPH, The Cooper Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated worldwide to preventive medicine research and education, housing one of the world’s largest databases on exercise and health. Each year The Cooper Institute develops engaged learners in fitness and health with its courses and nationally accredited Personal Trainer Certification exam. The Cooper
Institute offers web-based tools for schools to track and report on youth fitness and nutrition: FitnessGram® and NutriGram®. For more information, visit

About UT Southwestern Medical Center
UT Southwestern Medical Center, one of the premier medical centers in the nation, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution’s faculty has many distinguished members, including five who have been awarded Nobel Prizes since 1985. Numbering more than 2,600, the faculty is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide medical care in 40 specialties to more than 100,000 hospitalized patients and oversee nearly 2 million outpatient visits a year. For more information, visit