Walking is a fantastic form of exercise. It is something you can do whether you are over weight, out of shape, or even if you are fit and just trying to maintain your weight. However, it can seem to plateau on the amount of calories you can burn from the exercise. There are a number of things that you can do to increase the amount of calories burned from your walking work out.

As with any good work out you should begin your walking routine with stretching. This gets your muscles warmed up and stretched out. While it doesn't directly contribute to burning more calories during your walk, it will make it easier for your body to function properly. There are a number of stretches that can help you get ready for your work out. You should start with stretching your neck, move down to your shoulders and arms, then your back, and finally the various muscles of your legs. Having all of your muscles ready for walking will reduce the chance of injury, make it easier to walk well, and will also help you to burn more calories. This period of time will also help your muscles start to warm up and get ready for doing a lot of work.

Warm Up.
Once you are all stretched out it is important to begin your work out. This is easily done with a warm up time. To warm up your body begin to walk at a moderate pace. Make sure you have a good posture while walking (any time you walk). This initial start should be very comfortable and should last at least five minutes. This will give your body a time to warm up and get the calories burning. Your pace should continue for a time at a level that doesn't increase your breathing or your heart rate. Toward the end of the warm up period begin walking a little faster to allow your heart rate to speed up a little.

Pick Up The Pace.
Once your body is warmed up it is time to pick up the pace. To do this begin walking as fast as you comfortably can. Your arms should be moving along with your legs. While you should go quickly, you should still be able to talk during this time. However, your blood should get to pumping hard, your heart should be beating faster, and your breathing should be increased. Periodically it can be a good thing to walk even a little faster. Push yourself beyond your comfort zone. Maintain these increased levels of speed for two to three minutes and then drop back down a little and catch your breath. This increased work out will in turn burn more calories.

Walk The Hills.
The effort it takes to get up a hill is going to help you to burn more calories. If it is possible to do so in your area (or with your treadmill) then it is a good idea to walk the hills for burning more calories. You should do this steadily and try not to take any breaks, even if you are walking up a very large hill. Walking a wide variety of hill sizes can make a huge difference in the intensity of your workout and the amount of calories you burn. If you don't have hills in your area you can use some of the other tips for a better work out or invest in a treadmill that allows you to increase the angle of your walk for more intensity. Here you can control how hard your body will have to work and build up your resistance to "hills" slowly.

Go "Off Road".
Terrain can also help us burn more calories. The beach, dirt, grass, and even gravel are all things that are harder for us to walk on then pavement. Therefore, whenever possible go "off road" for a better work out. You can either mix other types of terrain into your work out or simply start in a location forcing you to go on these types of surfaces from the beginning. You don't have to do these sorts of walks every time, but it is good to know that they can make a huge difference in the amount of calories that you will burn. Head to the beach, the sand dune, the woods, or other natural places to enjoy a fantastic walk that offers something a little different then your neighborhood.

Add Weights.
You can add a weighted vest and or small dumbbells to your walking work out to make it more work for your body. Carrying the extra weight will make your body work harder and burn more calories. These items are fairly inexpensive and easy to use. You shouldn't use ankle weights though because they can throw of your walk and cause problems with your hips.

Bring The Little Ones.
If you are a mom of children small enough to go in the stroller or be carried in a pack then bringing your children will increase the intensity of your walk. Whether you are pushing a stroller or carrying them with a front or rear pack the added effort and the muscles that you will have to work will allow you to burn a lot more calories. You can even wear a smaller child and push the stroller for the larger one!

Use Walking Poles.
While not everyone has heard of or seen walking poles, they can increase the intensity of your workout. These poles are similar to those used in skiing though they come with a variety of tips so that you can choose the one that will meet your needs according to the type of terrain you will be walking. These poles were originally used to help skiers keep in shape, but more and more people are turning to them because of the great work out they help provide.

Walk Longer and Farther.
Walking longer and farther is also a good way to burn more calories. This isn't always easy to do because of time restraints, it can help your body out a lot and can increase the amount of calories that you have burned significantly. Your body is like a stove and will burn more and more as you get warmer and warmer.

Cool Down.
For safely finishing your work out you need to provide your body with a great way to cool down. To do this decrease the speed that you are walking at. Work at getting your breathing and heart rate back to normal. Walk slower and slower till you are walking just a little slower then your regular non-workout, not in a hurry pace.

It is also a good idea to give your body a chance to finish cooling down and to let your well used muscles get stretched back out. To do this finish with stretching your legs, your back, your arms and shoulders, and even your neck. Breathe well during this time and enjoy the warmth that your muscles should be feeling from a good workout.

Walking is a fantastic, low cost way to loose weight. It can be done in any city and by anyone. You can use it to loose weight or use it to maintain the weight that you are at right now. Additionally it helps get the blood pumping and helps you get and or stay healthy and fit. With a few good steps, you can increase the intensity of your work out and burn even more calories.