James Rimmer, Ph.D., the Lakeshore Foundation Endowed Chair in Health Promotion and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, has been named to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition Science Board. He is the first researcher with a focus on the fitness of people with disabilities to be named to the prestigious post.
“There is a lack of representation of people with disabilities across the spectrum of health, wellness, exercise and nutrition, and I believe society is starting to recognize the value that exercise and good nutrition have on improving the health of every member of society, including those with the least access to it,” said Rimmer, a professor in the UAB School of Health Professions Department of Occupational Therapy. “This administration has a tremendous interest in physical activity, sports, recreation and obesity reduction, so this is a good time for people with disabilities to get on board the train.”
Rimmer’s three-year term with the board began Jan. 1. The team of 13 researchers will provide guidance and feedback on a variety of issues that pertain to the Council’s messages and programs.
“The big focus for many years has been working with schools to get them to value the importance of required daily physical education,” said Rimmer. “Over the last 30 years, we have seen a significant drop in required P.E., and it’s important that committees like this provide data and support to emphasize the relevance of fitness to people in the U.S.”
He says the board will review scientific evidence — both new and old — and then make recommendations and presentations to the Council based on their findings.
“Our role is to make sure that whatever is recommended goes through the filter of scientific integrity,” said Rimmer.
Rimmer is director of two federally funded centers — the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability, funded by CDC, and the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Interactive Exercise Technologies and Exercise Physiology for Persons with Disabilities, funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. He is also the primary investigator on the NIDRR-funded Disability Rehabilitation Research Project on Obesity and Obesity-Related Secondary Conditions in Youths and Young Adults with Disabilities.