As parents and students navigate the first few weeks of the new school year, it is important to remember that physical activity is a critical part of having a healthy and alert mind. From rock climbing to mountain biking and skiing to hiking, Coloradans are fortunate to have so many options for fun outdoor activities.
Too many studies suggest that American youth are not as physically fit as earlier generations due to too much time spent in front of computer screens and TVs instead of being outdoors. I firmly believe we can change this by encouraging everyone to adopt a more active lifestyle and create a habit of healthy living that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
When I was a child, my mother frequently encouraged my siblings and me to get outside and feel the dust in our hands, tackle the steepest climbs and ski the coldest mountains. Once I became a parent myself, I continued this tradition with my children, spending quality time exploring Colorado's national parks, forests and other open spaces to share my love for adventure with them.
As chairman of the U.S. Senate's Subcommittee on National Parks and co-chairman of the bipartisan Senate Outdoor Recreation Caucus, I actively seek ways to engage younger generations on the importance of enjoying nature and staying active. In 2011, I launched the "National Kids to Parks" campaign in partnership with First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move Outside!" and the Department of the Interior's "Youth in the Great Outdoors" initiatives to get kids excited about being active and healthy outdoors, while also inspiring the next generation of American stewards to enjoy and protect our nation's special places.
Every chance I get, I am outside enjoying the beauty and majesty of Mother Nature. I've told you what I like to do to stay active, now show me what you like to do! In honor of the National Park Service celebrating its 96th birthday last week, I encourage you to post pictures and videos on my Facebook or Twitter page of how you best enjoy our great state's special places while staying active and fit during the school year. Please visit my website and make the pledge to get your kids out and moving.