woman warming her cold hands over a cup of hot tea

Who has the coldest hands: men or women?

University of Utah researchers used thermal imaging to compare the body temperature of men and women. What transpired? Women have a slightly warmer torso than men, it is a small difference of 0.2224 °.

A bigger difference was found in the hands. On average, women’s hands are as much as 1.56 °C colder than those of fellow males. If you, as a woman, say that your hands are cold, you are not complaining, it is true!

What happens in your body? When the temperature drops, the blood vessels in your hands and feet contract so less blood flows to these areas. Why your body is set this way?

Your body is built to survive. When it gets colder outside, your important organs, such as your heart, lungs, stomach, not to mention your uterus, are at risk of cooling down. To efficiently handle your warm blood, the blood vessels in the extremities of your body (hands, feet, ears, tip of your nose) contract so that blood flows through them at a reduced rate. Very nice that your body is set up to be so efficient, but you are left with the chilly consequences.

The contraction of those blood vessels naturally occurs in both men and women. But women respond much faster to cold. It is still not entirely clear to scientists why this is so. It could have to do with differences in muscle composition, body fat, body size and hormones.

The more muscles, the more burning takes place. So the more heat is released. The more muscle you have, the warmer your internal heater is.

As for body fat, it works both ways. On the one hand, you could say that fat keeps your body warm, and that is certainly the case around your vital organs in the trunk. For reproduction, of course, it is very important for the uterus to be well protected. But for the rest of your body, you don’t have much use for extra fat to stay warm. Fat actually hinders blood flow to the rest of your limbs. And body fat, of course, is not in ample supply around your toes and hands. 

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