Exercising for a clearer mind and a higher quality of consciousness is an incredible combined effort and an efficient method of exacting mind-body connection. I am interested in the long-term practice of such techniques and will sometimes share my own explorations here.
Yesterday, at the suggestion of Mushtaq Ali I ran 32 tabata intervals (20 seconds on, 10 seconds off) followed by a 20 minute walking meditation.
The experience was interesting in that my focus stayed in-the-moment for each 20 seconds of exertion (I pushed the pace) - attention was on proper foot strike (barefoot style), efficient breathing, observation of heart rate. The 10 seconds of rest were focused on recovery breathing and route choices (light traffic to Bernal Hill). There wasn't room for anything else. 32 intervals passed as though there was only one interval - the one I was focusing on.
The chemical effect of the running resulted in a high that was primal - I was not my urban self - the resulting freedom jolted me out of my regular sitting meditation thought loops.
When I moved into the walking meditation portion of the exercise, my heart rate and breathing were still elevated so I focused on bringing them down. Then the crispness of the air burning my lungs came into focus as did the dirt patterns of the path I was on. Then focus shifted to running energy. Then I experienced the fatigue of 32 intervals of explosive running so I sat for the last 10 minutes looking out over San Francisco - metta-meditation. Next time I will choose to observe the exhaustion while continuing to walk.
This technique is not easier than, nor is it an escape from, seated meditation. It definitely requires active attention! Discipline and depth will develop through practice.