If you’re looking to kill a few calories but are unwilling to sign your soul away for an unused year at your local jazzy gym, why not consider the outdoor life and some truly awesome winter sports to get in shape the fun way!
Of course the temptation of all that heavenly indulgent mountain food on a ski or snowboarding holiday might have you concerned about piling it on, but fear not as food = fuel and that’s exactly what you’ll be burning tonnes of each day spent on the slopes.
Snowsports are an excellent form of cardio as well as a great way to tone and strengthen leg, core and arm muscles.
Both skiing and snowboarding are particularly good for strengthening the ankles, lower legs, quadriceps and glutes, as you engage these muscles to control your board or skis. Both activities require good balance, which work your core muscles, pulling in your abs and helping to align your spine. As you balance, you use your arm muscles to help steady yourself, working to firm them up, particularly in the upper arms and shoulders.
When your muscles are strong, the body works harder to use them, therefore burning more calories. This, plus being in a cold environment (where your body burns calories just to keep warm) is great news for your metabolism! On top of all these great health benefits, skiing and boarding also release adrenaline and endorphins which lift your mood and make you feel more alert, awake and happy.
Skiing or boarding for 6 hours can burn a whopping 2000 - 3000 calories, depending on your age, weight and height. With that in mind, it may take a lot less time than you think just to burn off that mulled wine and 3 Wiener Schnitzels you had for lunch…
Here are a few examples of some popular, hearty ski foods and drinks with an estimate of how long it takes to burn off each one (each food portion is based on a 300g serving).
The amount of calories burned while out on the slopes are immense and give you reason to feel less guilty about what you consume après ski. A day in the mountains can be exhausting and you will find yourself needing to consume more food in order to feel energised. If you want to know about the best foods to eat in order to keep you powering through, we’ve created a little guide below.
Feeling in the mood for a ski trip now? Check out our Last Minute Ski Holidays.
Thousands of Brits head to the slopes each winter for their one week a year on the slopes. As the mountain lifestyle is so different to our normal 9-5 lifestyle we all have strange traits and habits on a ski holiday – where else can you get away with a Glühwein stop at midmorning or where melted cheese becomes part of your daily diet?
We’ve put together some of our favourite humorous ski characters you’ll find in a ski resort – which one are you and your friends most like?
You don’t bother getting out of bed if there isn’t any fresh snow. If there has been snow forecast, you will be up before sunrise to hike up your favourite mountain for fresh tracks before most people are even eating breakfast. You are an expert in all things backcountry, avalanche safety and snow prediction and often found preaching to people on a chairlift. Ski Chic Even though you have been skiing since a young age, you now only get out on the slopes if it is a perfect blue bird day. You are most likely found occupying sun loungers and bar stools in Zermatt, Courchevel or Davos in late season. Your skis have seen more action in the ski racks of an après bar than on snow.
The Ski Family Are you a super mum that is always fully prepared for any weather or situation? Are you a dad that tries to fit in with the chalet staff at après and is the first one to get the jagerbombs in? Do your children either head straight to the snow park or fly down red runs when there are meant to be sticking to blue pistes? View more characters and full infographic here
Illustrations by Mark Owens
What did you get up to after Christmas? Whilst some were polishing off the turkey leftovers and watching a festive flick on the telebox, others were shredding the gnar in the UK countryside. Parts of the north and midlands received up to 11cm of snow from Boxing Day 2014 which allowed keen skiers and snowboarders to head to the hills for some fresh powder turns. Check out these awesome photos of backcountry riding, UK style!
Team GB Olympic Snowboarder Jamie Nicholls getting some fresh tracks at home in Yorkshire
Jamie laying down a handplant on his mini ramp & Bradford looking very snowy in the background
Friends of Iglu, Lauren Quinnell & Ollie Evans riding near the Peak District in Wessington, Derbyshire
Stunning snowy landscapes in Leek, Staffordshire, perfect day for a fun shred with friends (Credit - Instagram @samcorbett88)
Paragliders jumping off Mam Tor in the Peak District (Credit - Twitter @PaulSCaddy)
More beautiful snowy scenery in the Peak District (Credit - Twitter @PaulSCaddy)
Skiers in the Peak District (Credit - Twitter @PaulSCaddy)
David Mercker Cox taking his board out in Glenariff, Northern Ireland
Snowy Glenariff at sunset
David getting his freestyle on in the snow in Northern Ireland
Last week we launched our World Cup blog series with two Southern Hemisphere resorts - Chile VS Australia. Chile came out top, beating Australia with its epic backcountry runs and reliable snow conditions. This week we’re moving a little closer to home, with the battle of two European countries, Switzerland VS France. Both are big favourites for many skiers and snowboarders, but which one will be crowned King of the Alps? We compare the slopes, après and cuisine to find out.
SwitzerlandMost resorts in Switzerland are set at a high altitude, bringing guaranteed snow as well as glacier skiing and good conditions throughout the season. Many of the ski areas provide long runs and challenging pistes, making it particularly good for skiers at a more intermediate to advanced level. There are, however, still opportunities for beginners. The resort of Wengen has a ski school as well as a blue piste and a ‘slow speed zone’ for those just starting out. From stunning scenery to plenty of pistes, backcountry runs and snowparks, Switzerland certainly has a lot of variety. The Graubunden ski area is Switzerland’s largest mountain area, offering a whapping 225km of skiable piste. Head to Verbier and you’ll find your ski area expanded to across the 4 valleys, which includes the neighbouring resorts of Nendaz and Les Collons. If you visit Zermatt you’ll soon spot the famous Matterhorn peak, which is often featured in many photos of the resort. There are some great advanced runs here as well as the opportunity to do some heliskiing for those who are looking for a new challenge. It is also the highest altitude resort in the country sitting at a top height of 3900m. For the adventurous ones out there, Flims Laax is home to 4 snowparks (including Europe’s largest half pipe) and a glacier for spring and summer skiing.
France Much like Switzerland, France also offers plenty of variation, from high altitude resorts to snowparks and glaciers. Snow reliability is high and the majority of resorts offer good snow conditions throughout the season. Les Deux Alps is the highest resort, standing at a top altitude of 3600m. The resort experiences long sunshine hours and boasts 220km of piste, a board park and a halfpipe. There are plenty of linked ski areas such as the massive Three Valleys with its 600km of runs. Portes du Soleil is one of the largest linked ski areas in the world, with lots of ski-in ski-out accommodation which is ideal for families and kids. For your freestyle fix, the Paradiski area has four snowparks and two half-pipes. France caters equally well for beginner, intermediate and advanced skiers. Alpe d’Huez has lots of blue runs, beginners only areas and no abundance of ski schools. If you like backcountry skiing, Tignes has some fantastic off piste opportunities, as does Val d’Isere. There are also numerous glacier resorts in France, including Tignes, some of which offer skiing all year round. Winner: France
Switzerland The après scene in Switzerland is a little on the small side, with not a great deal of après venues on offer. However, each of the bars makes up for it, with resorts such as Verbier known to have some fun and lively nightclubs. As well as nightclubs, expect to find discos, jazz bars and quiet pubs – something to cater for every taste.
France France is home to some well-known après venues, like Rond Point in Meribel and the legendary La Folie Douce, which has bars in Val d’Isere, Meribel, Val Thorens and Alpe d’Huez. Ibiza Rocks the Snow Festival is also held yearly in France, bringing some great partying and music to the mountains. All in all, expect some wild après, live bands every night and quieter venues where you can relax with a drink. Winner: France
St Moritz, Switzerland
Switzerland Switzerland is the home of the delicious Fondue as well as a whole other collection of comforting mountain foods. Enjoy Käseschnitte (cheese on toast), Raclette (melted cheese scraped overmeat, bread and vegetables) or fried potato Rösti’s. To satisfy your sweet tooth, Switzerland is a great place to find Swiss Chocolate and no end of delicious cakes and pastries.
France Most dishes found in the French mountains are cheese, potato or bread heavy. Traditional French dishes include Tartiflette (baked cheese, potatoes and meat), Beaufort Tart (a cheese and pastry tart), sweet crepes and pastries. Winner: Switzerland
Les Deux Alpes, France
Winner: France This one was a very close call – both countries have some excellent skiing, après and food and are both firm favourites for many snowsports enthusiasts. The winning streak came from France due to its ability to cater equally to beginner, intermediate and advanced abilities. It also knows how to throw a mean après party to end the day!
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"Just home from Christmas in Val d'Isere... this was the best ski holiday I have ever been on. Val is stunning, the hotel fabulous, staff sensational and skiing out of this world. We booked through Iglu. They were fantastic. Peter had great ski knowledge, offered advice and went the extra mile. " - Pamela (Dec 2015)