View Full Version : the gospel according to Saint Ken

September 20th 04, 04:43 PM
I had the interesting experience of seeing Dr. Kenneth Cooper speak
at a local health fair Saturday. It was accidental. I wasnt planning
on the fair, but poor weather kept me in town that day, and I noticed the
fair ad in the paper just that morning.

Dr. Cooper is generally credited with steering fitness in the cardio direction
with his 1968 book Aerobics. He coined that exercise term, starting the late
20th century running boom(*), gym dancing of that name, and influenced gyms to
have cardio machines. I read the Readers Digest except from that book in the
late sixties and started running- the main hobby thats persisted in my life
through decades of change.

He still preaches the same message of "cardio is the most important exercise",
with some modifications after measuring about nine thousand people at his
fitness insitute. He still promotes his "point system" for various kinds of
exercise. Swimming, cross-country skiing and running build up the points the
fastest. The main modification is that any cardio exercise at all, as little
as a couple miles a week in a General Motors employee studies, confers a
considerable health improvement. So he has a "Cooper-lite" system just to
get people off their rears. The other modification is more controversial-
that too much cardio is counterproductive. He did not say much about that.

I called him St. Ken because his talk had the demeanor of a preacher.
Although he is in 70s, he appears to about 55, because he is fit.
He did promote his pricey Dallas fitness center. The Wall Street Journal
mentioned last week as among a handful of places that conducts
multi-thousand dollar physicals for corporate executives.
So his study population is biased towrds upper middle class males.
And he also name-dropped his star patient- GWB- whom he said
ranks at the 99.5% percential of the progressive stress test for middle age

(*) Under his the original point system, running 20 miles a week was the
quickest way achieving the maximum point score. Popular sports of the 60s
like tennis got mediocre points. Competitive types latched onto running
as the next best exercise fad, and it never really lost steam.