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12-minute walk/run test – to assess cardiovascular capacity

A test to indicate your cardiovascular fitness

Kenneth Cooper – the man credited for inventing ‘aerobics’ – developed his ‘Cooper Test’ way back, but it’s still widely used as a measure of cardiovascular fitness. The test is mainly designed for running exercise – but you can walk it if necessary.

The important thing is to maintain a steady pace, rather than go hell for leather for three minutes and then crawl for the remaining nine. Cooper’s results are based on a mixed gender sample of thousands of people.

How to do this exercise


Use a flat, measurable route (an athletics track is ideal) or a treadmill. After a five-minute warm-up, set a stopwatch and run or walk at as fast a pace as you can sustain for the duration of the test. Record the distance and compare it to the values below.

Results of this exercise

  • 1.46 miles (2.35km) or more = excellent
  • 1.33 to 1.45 miles (2.14 to 2.33km) = good
  • 1.32 to 1.26 miles (2.12 to 2.03km) = fair
  • 1.25 miles (2.01km) or less = poor

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