29th Jun 2016
FONT SIZE: A+ A-
Why some people feel the cold more than others
man who feels the cold warming up by a heater

In winter, do you find yourself adding layer after layer to keep warm, only to meet a friend who’s wearing just a T-shirt? Well, there’s a scientific reason why some people feel the cold more than others – and it’s not necessarily to do with body fat.

While you might assume that those with extra hair or padding will keep warmer out in the elements, the scientific explanation is more involved.

It turns out that while body fat does play a part in insulation, it’s actually body size that is responsible for how quickly you feel the cold.

Imagine jumping into the ocean on a freezing day. You might feel the cold straight away but your body can prevent a drop in core temperature for a little over an hour. The larger your body, the longer it takes for your core temperature to drop.

So, your bigger, taller friend really does have an advantage. This also explains why women, who tend to be smaller, feel the cold more than men.

There are other factors that contribute to why some feel the chill more quickly. Ollie Jay, researcher of physiology at the University of Sydney says, “The main reason that we feel cold in the first place is due to receptors that are sensitive to cold, [which] are in the skin”.

“It will depend on what parts of the body are exposed to the cold, but there are also other things that determine if people physically cool quicker,” he says.

Your shape, size, age, gender and environment all influence your ability to retain body heat. A study published by the Australian Academic Press found that cold hands and feet was a highly heritable phenotype and is more prevalent in women that in men.

Researchers have also concluded that if you’re healthy but tend to get cold easily, it’s probably because you’re too used to using external devices (heaters, insulating clothing) to keep warm, instead of allowing your metabolism to do its job. If this sounds like you, you can train your body to keep itself warmer by turning down the thermostat, exercising more and relying on fewer layers to warm up.

RELATED ARTICLES





    COMMENTS

    To make a comment, please register or login
    tisme
    5th Jul 2016
    10:05am
    menopause also makes u feel the heat but not always all over
    micko
    5th Jul 2016
    10:26am
    Tisme....a lady friend was telling me the exact same thing last week when I was complaining about the cold weather !!
    Anonymous
    5th Jul 2016
    1:36pm
    micko, she must have had an eye for you.
    David
    5th Jul 2016
    11:50am
    I agree that "you can train your body to keep itself warmer by turning down the thermostat, exercising more and relying on fewer layers to warm up."
    I have been doing lots of camping and cycling outdoors for several decades, regardless of the weather or the season. So I feel I have conditioned myself to tolerate the cold extremely well. I wear shorts all year round outside and never wear long-sleeved shirts indoors.
    I never use the heater (in the house and the car), even in winter.
    I believe that if you move from a over-heated house to a over-heated car to a over-heated workplace, you'll have no tolerance for the cold.
    Government and environmental websites recommend that you set your thermostat to no more than 18-19 degrees in winter (and set it to no less than 25 degrees in summer). If you do this, not only will your tolerance to the cold improve, but you will save hundreds of dollars in energy bills, which is a plus for us retirees.
    Lyn
    5th Jul 2016
    12:08pm
    You will also feel the cold more if you have under active thyroid.
    Anonymous
    5th Jul 2016
    1:37pm
    and don't wear enough clothes, too.
    Silver Brumby
    5th Jul 2016
    12:50pm
    I feel the cold so much I need to put on a jumper to walk past the fridge. But in summer, I never get too hot, even in the tropics where I am, so there are advantages. I never use the air conditioner to cool me. Can others not so blessed do the reverse and increase their tolerance to heat?
    sunny
    5th Jul 2016
    4:12pm
    That is a good question. But if your core is too hot in the winter, then how can you tolerate the summer heat? My face is red all year round, and feel sick if a/c is on too high.
    Nan Norma
    5th Jul 2016
    7:32pm
    I love summer. Very rarely too hot for me but hate the winter.
    Young Simmo
    5th Jul 2016
    1:35pm
    I was once told that lots of Brandy and Whisky make you feel just right, anybody else tried it?
    particolor
    5th Jul 2016
    3:30pm
    I feel the COLD More than Politicians because I'm Not Bloody Game to Turn the heater ON !! :-( :-(
    Arisaid
    5th Jul 2016
    9:07pm
    What about me. I never feel the cold. Always hot.


    Join YOURLifeChoices, it’s free

    • Receive our daily enewsletter
    • Enter competitions
    • Comment on articles