“Father of Aerobics” Kenneth Cooper, MD, MPH to receive Healthy Cup Award from Harvard School of Public Health

Kenneth Cooper

For immediate release: Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Boston, MA — In 1968, Kenneth Cooper, MD, MPH, authored the best-selling book Aerobics and introduced a new word to the American lexicon. He also spurred a fitness revolution.  On Tuesday, April 22, 2008 he will be honored for his accomplishments by the Harvard School of Public Health’s Nutrition Round Table with its Healthy Cup Award.

The Award will be presented as part of a lecture, reception, and fundraising dinner for the School to be held at The Charles Hotel in Cambridge, MA beginning at 4 p.m.

Media who would like to attend please contact Robin Herman at 617-432-4752 or rherman@hsph.harvard.edu.

When Dr. Cooper published Aerobics, only about 100,000 Americans jogged. Forty years later, that number exceeds 30 million, thanks partly to Dr. Cooper’s influence. Today, at age 77, he leads 10 health companies and The Cooper Institute, a nonprofit center dedicated to fitness research and professional education.  Dr. Cooper also heads the Cooper Aerobics Center in Dallas, as well as a second center at Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas, the site of CooperLife, a health and wellness residential community. He is the author of 19 books on fitness and preventive medicine. His latest book,Start Strong, Finish Strong, is co-authored with his son, Tyler Cooper, MD, MPH, and describes strategies for lifelong fitness and health.

As part of the Nutrition Round Table’s Healthy Cup Award event, lectures by Dr. Cooper and Harvard School of Public Health nutrition expert Walter Willett, MD, DrPH will be presented beginning at 4:30 p.m.  Dr. Willett, chair of HSPH’s Department of Nutrition, is among the most cited researchers in medicine in the past decade and has written best-selling books on nutrition, including Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy and The Fertility Diet.  He is widely known for revamping the U.S. Food Pyramid, for showing that not all dietary fats are “bad” and for leading the fight to eliminate trans fat from people’s diets. In his lecture he will speak about the latest research findings on trans fat, vitamin D, soda, low-carb diets and infertility. Dr. Cooper will address ways to reverse the obesity epidemic through nutrition and fitness.

The Healthy Cup Award is presented by the Harvard School of Public Health’s Nutrition Round Table, a group that helps to bridge the gap between scientific advances and sustainable changes in food policy, practices, and products, with a focus on obesity, healthy lifestyles, global nutrition, and chronic diseases.  Members include scientific experts, business leaders, restaurateurs, health educators and health care providers, writers, doctors, philanthropists, and concerned citizens.

“We are honored to present the Healthy Cup Award to Ken Cooper for his dedication to understanding the scientific link between exercise and good health,” said Ned Hentz, Chair of the Nutrition Round Table and  President and CEO of Olivio Products.  “His commitment and leadership in the areas of preventive medicine and physical fitness have helped better our society.”

“Dr. Cooper has been a pioneer in helping to change the social norm around exercise, making its preventive health effects accessible not only to athletes but to everyone,” said Barry R. Bloom, Dean of Harvard School of Public Health. “The challenge now is to reintroduce opportunities for fitness pursuits to our schools and communities. We applaud Dr. Cooper’s continuing efforts to educate the public on evidence-based strategies for lifelong wellness. And we are grateful to our Nutrition Round Table for helping to bring our research on prevention into practice.”

Dr. Cooper earned his MD from the University of Oklahoma and his MPH from Harvard School of Public Health.  During 13 years in the U.S. Army and Air Force, Dr. Cooper worked with NASA to help create a conditioning program to prepare astronauts for space, as well as exercise systems used in flight. He also developed the 12-minute and 1.5 mile fitness tests and the Aerobics Points System, all used today by military organizations, amateur and professional athletic teams, law enforcement agencies, and public schools and universities around the world.

Dr. Cooper’s recent work has championed the health and fitness of America’s youth by leading successful legislative efforts to put physical education back in Texas schools, and by creating the Our Kids’ Health Foundation to promote physical fitness testing among students.  He has also helped PepsiCo., Inc, eliminate trans fat from Frito Lay snacks, which showed that this could be done by a major national food supplier. Certified by the American Board of Preventive Medicine, Dr. Cooper has received more than 70 awards and honors.

This is the second time the Healthy Cup Award has been presented.  The first winner was Lee Iacocca, one of America’s most respected business leaders. Iacocca was honored for his philanthropic efforts to accelerate diabetes research and his efforts to introduce healthy food products made without trans fat into the mainstream American diet.


For more information contact:
Robin Herman
(617) 432-4752


Harvard School of Public Health is dedicated to advancing the public’s health through learning, discovery, and communication. More than 400 faculty members are engaged in teaching and training the 1,000-plus student body in a broad spectrum of disciplines crucial to the health and well being of individuals and populations around the world. Programs and projects range from the molecular biology of AIDS vaccines to the epidemiology of cancer; from risk analysis to violence prevention; from maternal and children’s health to quality of care measurement; from health care management to international health and human rights. For more information on the school visit: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu.