The heat produced by the chemical reactions, especially in the muscles, is then distributed to all parts of the body by the blood. Therefore, it is not surprising that the feet are the first to become cold since their tissue is located furthest from the heart.
Several factors can hinder the distribution of heat:
If the bloodstream is what redistributes heat, stress may be partly responsible for cold feet. In stressful situations – we usually think of danger or a serious problem, but dropping temperatures also cause stress – the body reacts by producing adrenaline. This hormone from the catecholamine family, also called the “stress hormone,” causes, among other things, a decrease in the size of blood vessels (vasoconstriction) in the periphery which allow blood (and heat) to flow to important organs, such as the brain and heart. As a result, the feet receive less blood (and heat) and get colder.
Similar to a poorly insulated house, feet that are poorly protected against the cold will obviously get cold and cause discomfort. First, good shoes or boots limit heat loss. They should also not be too tight to avoid cutting off blood circulation.
Second, attention should be paid to socks. Since water is an excellent conductor of heat (and cold), wet socks tend to make feet feel cold. Therefore, it is important that they evacuate moisture produced by the foot. People who sweat a lot should look for more breathable fabrics, such as cotton, wool, Gore-Tex or other high-tech fibres.
Finally, it is worth remembering the advice of our mothers from way back: to keep your feet warm, wear a hat! Well, mom had a point. Although it makes up barely 10% of the body’s surface, the head is responsible for 40% of its heat loss!