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Fitness Test - 12 Minute Run Fitness Test for Endurance

Try this simple fitness test to measure your aerobic fitness

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Updated May 20, 2014

The 12 Minute Run fitness test was developed by Dr. Ken Cooper in 1968 as an easy way to measure aerobic fitness and provide and estimate of VO2 max for military personnel. This simple test is still used today as a field test for determining aerobic fitness.

Dr. Cooper found that there is a very high correlation between the distance someone can run (or walk) in 12 minutes and their VO2 max value, which measure the efficiency with which someone can use oxygen while exercising. This test is still one of the basic fitness tests used by the the military, as well as many coaches and trainers to determine cardiovascular fitness and track fitness over time. This simple test also allows you to compare your cardiovascular endurance with others of your age and gender.

What is Cardiovascular Endurance?

In sports, cardiovascular endurance refers to an athlete's ability to sustain prolonged exercise for minutes, hours, or even days. Endurance testing is a way to measure the efficiency of an athlete's circulatory system and respiratory system in supplying oxygen to the working muscles and support sustained physical activity.

When we talk about endurance, we generally refer to aerobic endurance. Aerobic exercise requires oxygen to help supply the energy needed for exercise. The objective of endurance training then, is to develop and improve the body systems that produce and deliver the energy needed to meet the demands of prolonged activity.

How to Perform the 12 Minute Run Test

The Cooper 12 minute run test requires the person being tested to run or walk as far as possible in a 12 minute period. The objective of the test is to measure the maximum distance covered by the individual during the 12 minute period and is usually carried out on a running track by placing cones at various distances to enable measuring of the distance. A stopwatch is required for ensuring that the individual runs for the correct amount of time.

  • Safety First. This is a strenuous fitness test and it's recommended that you have your physician's clearance before performing this test on your own.
  • Equipment. You'll need a timer to know when 12 minutes are up.
  • Location. This test is designed to be conducted on a track with clearly marked distance. You can perform the test on a treadmill, but be sure to raise the incline to one degree to simulate outdoor running.
  • Warm Up. Perform a short 10 to 15 minute warm up before performing any fitness testing.
  • Run or Walk. When you are warmed up, get going. Run or walk as far as you can in 12 minutes.
  • Record Your Distance. Record the total number of miles or kilometers you traveled in 12 minutes.

Calculate Your 12 Minute Run Test Results

The easiest way to get your test results (your VO2 max score) and compare yourself with others of your age and gender is with this Online 12 Minute Test Results Calculator.

Calculate Your Estimated VO2 Max

To calculate your estimated VO2 Max results (in ml/kg/min) use either of these formulas:
  • In Miles: VO2max = (35.97 x miles) - 11.29.
  • In Kilometers: VO2max = (22.351 x kilometers) - 11.288

Compare Your 12 minute Run Fitness Test Results

After your complete the test, you can compare your results to the norms and recommendations for your age and gender with the following table.

Source:

Cooper, K.H. (1968), "A means of assessing maximal oxygen uptake," Journal of the American Medical Association, 203:201-204.

12 Minute Run Fitness Test Results

Age Excellent Above Average Average Below Average Poor
Male 20-29 >2800m 2400-2800m 2200-2399m 1600-2199m <1600m
Females 20-29 >2700m 2200-2700m 1800-2199m 1500-1799m <1500m
Males 30-39 >2700m 2300-2700m 1900-2299m 1500-1999m <1500m
Females 30-39 >2500m 2000-2500m 1700-1999m 1400-1699m <1400m
Males 40-49 >2500m 2100-2500m 1700-2099m 1400-1699m <1400m
Females 40-49 >2300m 1900-2300m 1500-1899m 1200-1499m <1200m
Males 50 >2400m 2000-2400m 1600-1999m 1300-1599m <1300m
Females 50 >2200m 1700-2200m 1400-1699m 1100-1399m <1100m
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