I have a rather peculiar and random question about heat loss during cold weather.

The head, the hands and the feet all emanate a great quantity of heat and are important regulators in mantaing optimal body temperaure. In cold weather, vasoconstriction occurs in the extremities in order to save heat; also, sometimes there appears the cold induced vasodilatation (CVID) effect.

My question is if the legs recieve more bloodflow than the hands when walking, shouldn't the toes also have a slightly higher temperature than the fingers from the hand? Or is the adrenal vasoconstriction preventing this from happening?

P.S: I couldn't find any study that measured this absurd effect. 😁

  • 2
    Good question. As a cyclist who sometimes rides in cold weather, it has long perplexed me why my feet and toes get cold first despite the fact that my legs are doing so much work.
    – Carey Gregory
    Commented Jan 26, 2018 at 2:25
  • 1
    I couldn't find any evidence to back this up, but it could just be that there is vasodilation to the things/ calves and vasoconstriction to the feet. Since there are very few muscles in your feet themselves (the foot is controlled by muscles in the leg acting through tendons), the foot does not need much blood flow even when the legs are working hard.
    – Nate
    Commented Jan 29, 2018 at 18:32

1 Answer 1


The arteries and veins act as a counter current heat exchange system so the veins extract heat from the arteries as blood flow returns to the heart. The further the distance from the heart the blood has to travel the more the heat is lost to the venous system running parallel to the arteries. This is why the feet are colder than the hands.


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