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I can’t believe I’m only just realizing this now, but the workout that I did with Discover Outdoors on Tuesday and my interview with running coach Eric Orton helped open my eyes to the fact that one of the main reasons I love running, is because I get to do it outside!

If I had the choice between working out in the gym or going for a run, I’d choose running every time. And it’s not just because I enjoy running more than lifting weights or other forms of exercise, but more so because I’d rather spend time and exercise outside.

I guess I sort of knew this all along, but I only really started thinking about it recently.

This all started on Monday when I got to chat with yoga expert and outdoor enthusiast Eoin Finn. He’s all about spending as much time outside as possible because it has the ability to put us a great state of mind. The first time I interviewed him for a story he said:

“The bench mark for health is the ability to relax. Relaxation is best done under a tree. When we are outside somewhere beautiful in nature, we feel small and in this place of feeling small relative to the grandeur of nature, we feel a part of one large interconnected whole. There is so much happiness that lies here. We feel a part of something infinitely vast and beautiful and not apart from it.”

I completely agree. While we were chatting earlier this week I thought back to the all of the time I had spent outside that past weekend and realized just how right he is.

Then on Tuesday I had the opportunity to interview Eric Orton (he’s the running coach from the book “Born to Run“…  Maybe you’ve heard of it?) Anyway, I was asking him about his new running camp, much of which is based on running in the mountains and using the rugged terrain as a natural challenge.

He started talking about the importance of awareness and how running outside helps to increase that.

“I love music just as much as running, but I can’t remember the last time I listened to music while running because I want to get out and experience nature—throw everything away and just be aware of our surroundings. I think an awareness is big part of being an athlete and I think so many people try to tune it all out,” he told me.

He went on to talk about how so many people just want to get their workouts over with and completely tune out what’s going on around them. “We can have an adventure in our own minds wherever we run as long as we are aware of what’s going on,” he said.

The more he went on and the more I thought about it, the more I completely agreed.

And then (yes there’s more!) after work that day I headed to Central Park for a Primal “Workout” with Discover Outdoors, which was a part of their Outdoor Rise project, a week-long campaign featuring outdoor adventures and activities available for just $5. All of the proceeds go to benefiting the inner-city youth programs of the Discover Outdoors Foundation which helps kids who live in urban areas discover the outdoors!

But back to the “workout.” I keep putting that word in quotes because what I participated in was no doubt exercise, but instead of work it felt like a fun play date in the park. Jonathan, the trainer leading the session, had us take off our shoes, play games and run barefoot in the grass. We all laughed the entire time. (You may have seen my Instagram post about it!)

We moved the entire time but not once did I ever feel like I was “working out.” That’s what running feels like for me too. Obviously it’s challenging sometimes and I might complain about it, but at the end of the day when I go out for a run it’s because I truly enjoy it.

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Everyone needs to experience exercise this way. It’s not like I haven’t talked about this plenty of times before. I always try to emphasize that fitness is about finding fun. It’s my passion to inspire anyone and everyone to find a sport or a game or an activity… whatever it is—something that gets you up and moving around that you REALLY love so that you never have to worry about “fitting exercise into your schedule” or “finding the motivation” to workout. It’s just something that you look forward to doing all of the time.

When you do what you love all of that will just come naturally…. And now I’m really realizing that a big part of finding the fun in fitness includes spending time outside.

I wanna know what you think! Do you agree? How do feel when you spend time and exercise outside? Let me know in the comments!