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Aerobics Celebrates 40th Anniversary

Famed 'Father of Aerobics' Dr. Kenneth Cooper Credited with Launching

Worldwide Fitness Movement Among Adults, Turns Attention to Children

DALLAS, March 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Aerobics. For four decades, it has been a word associated with different forms of exercise from the jogging craze to dancing in leotards, home exercise videos to packed group classes. But for one man, aerobics was a journey to define physical fitness that not only changed his life, but also changed the world.

March marks the 40th anniversary of the 1968 release of Aerobics, a revolutionary book that introduced a new word into the lexicon and launched a worldwide fitness movement. The invention of a young U.S. Air Force physician named Kenneth H. Cooper, Aerobics was born in a quest to quantify the amount of healthy and harmful levels of exercise. His interest in the subject was as much personal as professional.

"I credit two things that helped jumpstart my journey: a personal wake-up call and a challenge to break new ground," says Dr. Cooper.

At age 29, he thought he was having a heart attack while water skiing. He learned it was his body's reaction to a 40-pound weight gain, stress and inactivity during medical school. "There was no research on the topic of exercise at that time, and a close colleague suggested I should try to measure it," Cooper says.

Cooper created the 1.5-mile and 12-minute mile tests to measure aerobic capacity. He also developed the Aerobics Points System-assigning points to an exercise based on type of movement, duration and level of exertion-which are outlined in Aerobics and later books.

He opened The Cooper Institute in 1970 in Dallas. Since then, it has released more than 600 articles on the impact of physical activity on a person's quality of life and longevity.

"Generally, you should exercise 30 minutes most days of the week. But we know from research that if you walk two miles in 30 minutes, three times a week, the chances of dying from any cause is reduced by 58 percent and your life span increases by six years," he says.

A full program to start and maintain a healthy lifestyle at any age is outlined in Cooper's latest book Start Strong, Finish Strong -- the first collaboration with his son Dr. Tyler Cooper.

More recently, Cooper has turned his attention toward the nation's children. He started the Our Kids' Health initiative under The Cooper Institute to channel his education and legislative efforts.

In 2007, Cooper was instrumental in passing Senate Bill 530 in Texas requiring moderate to vigorous physical activity during physical education class for Kindergarten through 8th grade students. The law also requires the state's 3rd through 12th graders undergo The Cooper Institute's FITNESSGRAM(R) test that measures students' physical fitness to determine their overall health.

"We are seeing unprecedented levels of obesity and type II diabetes among children and adolescents. If these problems continue, this will be the first generation in which parents will outlive their children," says Dr. Cooper. "Increasing the fitness of students will not only better their health, but also raise their academic performance."

At age 77, exercising five days a week and the grandfather to four young ones, Dr. Cooper is as passionate about the future of youth as he was about Aerobics for adults.

"Hopefully, improving the health of our children will be my legacy," Cooper says. "Our next generation deserves to live a life full of happiness, not one of limitations or health problems. That starts with you and me."

SOURCE Cooper Aerobics Center
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