Aerobic exercises, in which body movements are combined with respiratory movements, were known even in antiquity. The scientific rationale and terminology for such activity was first proposed by the American physician Kenneth Cooper, who called various types of recreational physical activity “aerobics”.
Working for the US Air Force, Cooper conducted research on aerobic training, the fundamentals of which he outlined in his first book, Aerobics, published in 1963 and designed for a wide range of readers. And this was only the beginning of the research path of the famous doctor of medicine.
Kenneth Cooper: Aerobics for Everyone
A world-famous specialist in physical education was born on March 4, 1931 in Oklahoma City. The popularity of the doctor was brought by his wellness programs for mass use and a system for assessing the physical condition of the body, known as Cooper tests. They allow adherents of a healthy lifestyle without any problems and quite accurately examine themselves. Tests are designed for people of any physical fitness and age.
The self-assessment system helps to determine the physical condition, as well as to track the progress that regular physical exercises bring to a person. An important point is the strict age dependence of the results. Thus, an indicator considered “good” for a forty-year-old subject will not be equivalent for a twenty-year-old subject, since physical performance changes with age. Cooper's most popular test is running. In just 12 minutes of running or walking, you can evaluate the performance of the whole body, and based on the results, choose an adequate program of running training.
How did it all start?
It just so happened that all the most productive recovery systems are developed by specialists, so to speak, through bitter experience. According to Kenneth Cooper’s biography, the “father” of aerobics is no exception. In college, Cooper, as they say, was friends with sports, but by the age of 28, being a certified doctor working in the US Air Force, he lost his form, gained extra weight and forgot to forget about a healthy lifestyle.
To reconsider his attitude to Cooper's own health was caused by an unexpected deterioration in well-being, after the doctor decided to give himself a sharp load. The weakened body did not pass the test, but forced Cooper to draw significant conclusions that allowed the American doctor to become the founder of modern preventive medicine and open the Aerobics Center in Dallas and McKinney, Texas, as well as a non-profit research and educational organization at the Cooper Institute.
From theory to practice
Kenneth Cooper's conclusions now seem quite natural, but in the middle of the 20th century, the relationship of physical activity, weight and a healthy diet with a healthy lifestyle was just beginning to be studied. The doctor found a relationship between the health of the body and fitness, between the mental state of a person and physical activity. If a person is physically active, then his biological aging slows down, and the indicators of the functional systems of the body of trained people are higher than that of untrained people. The peculiarity of Cooper's activity is that, by studying the physiological functions of patients, he converted indicators into quantitative characteristics. So a score system for points and formulas for different types of physical exercises for men and women of all ages appeared.
Laboratory studies have identified several degrees of preparedness for men and women of different age groups.
For example, the health status of a 40-year-old man is defined as “very poor” if his oxygen consumption per minute, calculated per kilogram of weight, is less than 25 milliliters. The human cardiovascular system with such an indicator cannot provide the oxygen flow necessary for normal functioning.
In order to check the status, Cooper developed a running test in which a person must run (or, at worst, pass) as far as possible in 12 minutes. In the event that a 40-year-old man overcame less than 1300 meters in 12 minutes, this means that he consumes less than 25 milliliters of oxygen per kilogram of weight. Consequently, his state of health is assessed as “very poor”.
Thus, according to the Cooper test, everyone can check themselves. But the doctor warns that the test can harm people with poor health and those who have not practiced for a long time, so they need to undergo a 6-week preparation developed by the researcher. After it, you can conduct a test, assess your condition and, depending on the indicators, go to the training program that Cooper described in detail in his works.
Cooper's Key Idea
Human health, according to Cooper, depends on aerobic performance. This is the maximum amount of oxygen that the body can absorb in one minute. And the more athletic a person is, the more this indicator will be. Cooper's main idea is to improve breathing efficiency. What does it mean? If a person is regularly engaged, then his body receives oxygen in sufficient quantities, which supplies the person with energy. And an untrained person limits himself to oxygen, which is why he gets tired much faster and begins to suffocate when accelerating movement, climbing stairs, etc.
That is why Cooper talks about the importance of aerobic exercise, in particular walking, running, swimming, skiing and cycling. But a positive effect can only be achieved with the proper use of these exercises. Only a competently calculated load and a rational training system will bear fruit and allow you to engage with pleasure.
Cooper Training Program
In 1976, Kenneth Cooper’s book, New Aerobics, was published, including a system of health-improving physical exercises for all ages. This system is focused on increasing the aerobic performance of the body. With it, people can strengthen the functional systems responsible for breathing and blood circulation.
Condition monitoring is based on scoring corresponding to the intensity of the workout and the amount of oxygen consumed. This allows you to monitor the dynamics of physical performance and make the necessary adjustments to classes. Physical condition will be considered good when the conditional load points per week will be at least 30. What does this mean? Cooper has developed special training programs for different types of aerobic activity.
As noted above by the example of running, for men and women there are certain indicators that determine the state of health on the basis of a person's ability to overcome a certain distance in 12 minutes.
The result allows you to assign a person to the appropriate group of physical condition and engage in a program calculated for this group. In each program, points for training loads are painted. You can choose 30-point options or an individual program with a total of at least 30 points per week. For example, people under 30 with regular jogging classes will be able to achieve a good degree of preparedness for the fifth week of classes.
So, if they cover a distance of 3.2 km in 24 minutes 4 times a week, then in their piggy bank there will be 31.6 points. And if, say, walk 3 times a week for 3.2 km in 34 minutes, then you can score 12.2 points. Then it will be necessary to supplement classes with other types of loads to the cherished 30. For example, you can swim 4 times a week for 550 m in 16 minutes. This will add 18.8 points. And then the total for the week will be the desired result. Cooper's training programs, in addition to running, include walking, cycling, swimming, jumping rope, walking on stairs, sports (basketball, tennis, volleyball) and other activities. They can be found in detail in the writings of the researcher.
The principle of balance in everything is the key to health
In 1979, the book "Aerobics for well-being" by Kenneth Cooper was published. In it, the researcher not only repeated the previous recommendations, but also significantly expanded them, offering a whole system of a healthy lifestyle. In particular, Cooper emphasized that physical education alone cannot provide good health. In addition to regular training, a person must adhere to proper nutrition, stop smoking and alcohol. The book provides recommendations on how to quit smoking and which diets to use. An important advice of the author is to follow the principle of balance and balance in training:
Recent scientific evidence shows that if you do not participate in competitions, then the amount of running training should be limited to 20-25 kilometers per week. Larger loads greatly increase the likelihood of injuries and impaired body functions, while smaller ones do not give the desired effect. If you run more than 25 kilometers a week, then this can no longer be called a run for health, maintaining a good figure, emotional harmony. Such a load will help to prepare well for the competition, but is unlikely to improve your well-being.
Four phases of Kenneth Cooper aerobic workout that must be followed:
- Warm up. To avoid muscle sprains and tears, in no case should you ignore the warm-up. It warms the muscles of the back and limbs, and also increases the heart rate, preparing the heart for intense exercise. Warm up should be easy, so as not to overload the body. General developmental exercises aimed at all muscle groups are perfect.
- Aerobic phase. Achieving a healing effect occurs precisely at this phase. It performs selected loads, the volume of which depends on the type of activity and its intensity. For example, in the most active aerobic forms (skiing, running, swimming and cycling), the healing effect is achieved if you exercise at least 20 minutes 4 times a week. But it is best to follow the point system and practice at least 3 times a week (i.e., it is extremely undesirable to divide 30 points into two or even more than one workout per week, and is contraindicated for people over 40). Everyday training is not conducive to recovery, and if you exercise 5 times a week, it is best to alternate light and difficult days.
- Hitch. In order to smoothly reduce the heart rate, in the third phase of aerobic exercise, you must continue to move at a slow pace. The duration of the phase should be at least 5 minutes.
- Power load. This phase includes exercises that strengthen muscles and develop flexibility. It should last at least 10 minutes. Strength gymnastics and weight training exercises of various kinds are perfect. They will increase the strength of bones and joints.
Kenneth Cooper's medical research confirms that exercise improves blood circulation, protects the body from heart disease, and normalizes mental health. Physical activity is the natural destiny of a person whom the civilized world has neglected. Referring to fatigue, lack of time and other excuses that mask banal laziness, we do not allow the body to reveal its full potential inherent in nature. Thus, we age faster, feel a lack of energy and suffer from nervous overload. But you need very little - just provide yourself with moderate motor activity, which everyone can afford if he wants.
The system developed by Cooper helps to select the necessary training program to improve health and achieve well-being.