As anyone who suffers from nippy fingers would know, cold hands seem to cool you to your core and are almost impossible to warm up in winter.
University of Cambridge researcher Stephanie Payne took body composition measurements of a group of volunteers before getting them to plunge their hands in icy water for three minutes, then used a thermal imaging camera to measure the rate their hands heated up again.
As you might have guessed, those with a greater muscle mass had hands that heated up more quickly — suggesting people with greater muscle mass don’t complain of cold hands as much, which sounds like reason #367 to start strength training.
But Professor Ollie Jay, University of Sydney thermoregulatory physiologist, says the increased warming is probably not so much about muscle bulk as much as the people’s body — and therefore hand — size.
“The size of your hands will determine how quickly they’ll cool down from a physical perspective,” he tells 9Honey Coach.
“If you’ve got a big hand, it will take longer to cool down than a small hand because small hands have a higher surface-area-to-volume ratio.”
So Professor Jay says what’s probably happening with this study is that bigger people tend to have larger hands and a larger muscle mass.
“There’s probably an association between the size of your hands and the size of your body,” he says.
“It’s unusual to have … a short, skinny person with massive hands or a very tall, bulky person with tiny hands.”
The moral of the story?
If you have small hands, you’ll probably feel the cold more this winter — so buy a nice pair of gloves and rug up as much as possible.
“If you keep the body core warm, you will have less of a drive for vasoconstriction [of blood vessels in the hands] and the hands swill stay warmer,” Professor Jay says.
“And any kind of physical activity, even just walking to the train so you are contracting your muscles, [will] keep you warm.”