Did you know that skiing is a great form of exercise?
A ski holiday has to be one of the most popular active holidays and – when it comes to keeping fit and healthy – they tick a lot of boxes.
A typical day of skiing can burn up to 3,000 calories – far more than your usual session in the gym – meaning that it could be the perfect new year’s pastime for those wanting to lose weight in a fun, sociable fashion. What’s more, if the temperatures are sub-zero, you’re likely to expel even more energy because your body burns calories to raise your body temperature and help keep you warm.
Skiing is also a ‘proprioceptive’ activity in that it allows you to feel and become aware of the effort that goes into moving the different parts of your body – perfect for giving your brain a workout as well as your body! Learners will feel a big impact on their transverse abdominal muscles (core strength is key when skiing!), and even falling over will keep you fit, keeping your abs and arm muscles active.
Top resorts for beginners
If you’re hitting the slopes for the first time this season, it’s natural to feel nervous – especially if you’re a late learner. However, strength comes in numbers which is why Neilson ski holidays have identified the destinations tipped to be the most popular among people learning to ski in the coming months. Paul Deadman, a ski expert at Neilson, shares his reasons why ski beginners are so drawn to these particular resorts:
- Les Deux Alpes, France
“Les Deux Alpes is such a good choice for first timers because the resort runs along the valley floor giving way to loads of gentle practice areas with free lifts, ideal for beginners. This is one of the few resorts that has slopes which are suitable for newbies higher up the mountain. Being a glacier resort means great snow conditions all year round, and your instructor will have you up on the gently rolling glacier pistes in no time.”
- Arinsal, Andorra
“Each of the resorts in Andorra seem to be designed for a particular group of people, and Arinsal perfectly suits beginners and families. All of the slopes funnel back to a central point so there’s much less risk of getting lost! It has a dedicated beginner area and a series of short runs, all with magic carpet lifts (like an airport flat escalator) to help new skiers build confidence.”
- Zakopane, Poland
“It may be a little known resort on the world ski map, but Zakopane in the far south of Poland is made for beginners. Once on the slopes, you’ll progress quickly thanks to friendly instructors and a wide, gentle piste, all lined with trees for an added feeling of security.”
- Mayrhofen, Austria
“Mayrhofen is immensely popular with British skiers, and it’s easy to see why. The area is huge and varied with excellent year-round conditions (thanks to the Hintertux Glacier), plus the nightlife is some of the best around. With 506km of pistes, there’s plenty of choice for a mixed ability group. Adult beginners can learn on Penken Mountain.”
- Chamonix, France
“Chamonix is possibly one of the most well-known resorts in the world. It’s a winter sports mecca and experts flock to attempt its world-class off-piste. But, it also has a softer side which suits beginners perfectly. The ski area is split into four and one area, Le Tour, is the most gentle with wide open slopes and great snow conditions. There are a few drag lifts at the bottom which suit complete beginners or kids.”
- Tignes, France
“The second highest resort in Europe, and one other half of the incredible 300km Espace Killy ski area, Tignes is definitely a good choice for newbies;. it takes just one chairlift ride from Tignes to find a natural bowl of gently rolling green runs, perfect for practicing new found skills. It’s surrounded by tall peaks so gets quite sheltered if the weather does turn.”
- Val Thorens, France
“Being the highest ski resort in Europe (at 2,300m) means the slopes are always in great condition for everyone at Val Thorens. No grass-dodging for beginners here! The slopes wrap around the resort and get gradually steeper the higher you go so it’s a great place to learn. The nursery slopes are found right next to the resort, so it’s super easy for beginners who need a bit of a break to head back to resort for a rest.”
- Morzine, France
“Morzine has always been popular with beginners; it’s close to Geneva Airport, the town is postcard pretty and the ski area is fantastic! At the foot of the slopes, you’ll find a couple of drag lifts and very gentle slopes to make your first turns. Then, within a 10 minute chairlift ride, you’ll be in a dedicated beginner area.”