Background: Various individual characteristics affect environmental adaptability of a human. The present study evaluates the relationship between physical fitness and peripheral vasoconstriction in a cold environment. Methods: Seven healthy male students (aged 22.0 years) participated in this study. Cold exposure tests consisted of supine rest for 60 min at 28 °C followed by 90 min at 10 °C. Rectal and skin temperatures at seven sites, oxygen consumption, and the diameter of a finger vein were measured during the experiment. Metabolic heat production, skin heat conductance, and the rate of vasoconstriction were calculated. Individual maximum oxygen consumption, a direct index of aerobic fitness, was measured on the day following the cold exposure test. Results: Decreases in temperature of the hand negatively correlated with the changes in rectal temperature. Maximum oxygen consumption and the rate of vasoconstriction are positively correlated. Furthermore, pairs of the following three factors are also significantly correlated: rate of metabolic heat production, skin heat conductance, and the rate of vasoconstriction. Conclusion: The results of this study suggested that the capacity for peripheral vasoconstriction can be improved by physical exercise. Furthermore, when exposed to a cold environment, fitter individuals could maintain metabolic heat production at the resting metabolic level of a thermoneutral condition, as they correspondingly lost less heat.
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