Ski holiday: mental and physical benefits for kids

Travel trends are constantly evolving from one year to the next. Gone are the days when a widely accepted idea of a vacation was lounging on the beach for sun-lovers or being cooped up in a cabin in snowy mountains. Research shows that travellers are now more than ever drawn to adventure oriented type of holidays. Snow holidays can be an enriching experience for both parents and kids. Skiing is a sport that kids can learn at a young age and continue doing, well into adulthood. Whether your kids are new to skiing or they are seasoned skiers, there are many health benefits- both physical and mental. In this blog, we look at the mental and physical benefits of a ski holiday for kids.

 

The physical benefits of a ski holiday

  • Improves cardiovascular endurance and health

Skiing is a physical exercise that helps with staying in shape and maintaining fitness. Being on their feet and sliding down those steep slopes will improve your kids’ heart rate and help burn calories. According to Bethany Garner of Ski Club of Great Britain, “skiing is good for you because it works the major muscle groups. Walk up the slope rather than using the ski lift- which really works out the heart and lungs, making it a good overall workout.”

  • Strengthens leg and lower body muscles

If you have ever tried skiing even once, you know how just how much balance and coordination is required. Kids have to use their core muscles to support the upper body and their leg muscles to balance on the skis. This also helps improve their balance and coordination.

  • Good for bones and joints

The constant tension placed on knees, ankles and feet helps strengthen legs which reduces the risk of developing osteoporosis.

 

The psychological benefits of a ski holiday

  • Appreciation of the outdoors

Being outdoor is a great  way to escape from the stressors of life; being surrounded by nature is a good mood enhancer. Club Med Pragelato Vialattea, located in the heart of the second largest ski area in Europe- La Vialattea is a ski fanatic’s dream. Tucked away in a beautifully preserved natural site in the Piedmont region of Italy, Pragelato Vialattea is perfect for winter family holidays (and includes ski lessons for adults and kids, as part of the holiday package!)

  • Improves proprioception

Defined as a person’s ability to feel the position of different parts of the body, proprioception is an integral part of skiing. The coordination and balance involved in skiing requires a lot of mental focus resulting in improved mental consciousness of body parts.

  • Improves confidence and encourages bonding

Skiing is not an easy sport, it can be quite intimidating for first timers. After many failed attempts, seeing your little ones finally soaring down a snow covered slope without any help will sure bring delight to both parents and kids.

With all the benefits of skiing, your next vacation should absolutely be a snow holiday.

A snow holiday for first timers (young and old)

Snow holidays are popular for people of all ages and once you try skiing or snowboarding and get the hang of it, it can become pretty addictive. But you’ll never know unless you try! The best way to approach a snow holiday for the first time is to embrace it as a new adventure. You’ll never forget the unmistakable click of boot into ski or snowboard and the sharp intake of breath as you start moving for the first time, as if by magic. For us South Africans, who are used to warm-weather activities, a snow holiday is particularly special. Here is a list of things you’ll need to take with you on your first snow holiday.

 

For the slopes:

  • A waterproof ski jacket and pants to keep you dry
  • A buff is a really versatile accessory that can serve as a scarf, a balaclava or a doek. If it’s really cold, take along the triple B’s – buff, beanie and balaclava
  • Goggles shield your eyes from glare, wind and snow. Make sure yours are anti-fog so that your vision doesn’t get all steamed up.
  • Ski socks are a must. They are nice and warm, and padded in all the right places
  • Absorbent under gear. Skiing or snowboarding generates a lot of heat, and you’ll probably work up quite a sweat under all that waterproof clothing. You need something underneath that will keep you warm without getting wet
  • A go pro or cell phone camera to capture the experience and take the inevitable selfie on the ski lift overlooking the slopes
  • Sunscreen is very important, unless you’re happy with a ski-mask tan. The snow is really reflective, so you’re exposed to the sun’s rays from above and below
  • If possible, carry a bit of water with you. It can get very dry out there, especially once you get going

 

If you go on a snow holiday with Club Med, you have the option to add the following to your package (which is rented directly from the resort):

  • Skis / snowboards
  • Ski boots / snowboarding boots
  • Ski poles
  • Helmet

 

For the resort/in a hotel:

  • Warm clothes and shoes, as well as comfortable casual gear – t-shirts, takkies, etc. While it may be cold outside, it’s nice and toasty in the resort!
  • If you like dressing up, be sure to check if there are any theme nights and come prepared for those. There are usually some great prizes to be won. You wouldn’t want to miss out.
  • Costume for the pool or jacuzzi (if available at your resort)
  • Waterproof shoes if you plan on walking in the snow

 

Most importantly, bring your spirit of adventure. Oh, and your appetite… the food is delicious!