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Body composition found to determine heat loss regulation in the hands


A study published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology has found that muscle mass can determine heat loss regulation in the hands.

  • Researchers from the University of Cambridge looked at the effect of body size and composition on maintaining hand temperature during severe cold exposure.
  • It is difficult to maintain thermal balance in cold conditions in the hands because they have a large surface area-to-volume ratio.
  • The study involved 114 participants who were of European origin and aged between 18 and 50.
  • The participants had their vital statistics taken and body composition assessed in order to measure their body fat and muscle.
  • After this, they dipped their hands into ice cold water for three minutes.
  • The researchers then measured the rate at which the participants’ hands heated up again with the use of a thermal imaging camera.
  • The results revealed that muscle mass can predict the rate of heat loss from the hands during severe cold exposure, while body mass, stature, and fat mass do not.
  • Moreover, body composition and body size only had little to no significant effect during rewarming after the participants immersed their hands in ice cold water.
  • Muscle possesses thermogenic properties that support maintenance of hand temperature during extreme cold exposure.
  • The researchers believe that their findings are important for understanding thermoregulation, the ability of the body to regulate its temperature.

In conclusion, the findings of the study indicated that people who have less muscle mass are more vulnerable to heat loss and cold injury compared to those have more muscle mass.

For the full text of the study, go to this link.

Journal Reference

Payne S, Macintosh A, Stock J. BODY SIZE AND BODY COMPOSITION EFFECTS ON HEAT LOSS FROM THE HANDS DURING SEVERE COLD EXPOSURE. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 2018; DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.23432



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