Poor circulation - particularly calf pain when you walk - can be a sign of serious artery problems, so see your GP if this happens, says Dr Clare Gerada, vice-chair of the Royal College of GPs. Often, however, chilly extremities are just an irritating genetic trait. Try these circulation boosters:
1. Quit smoking Smokers get cold extremities because smoking constricts the blood flow to the tiny blood vessels at the tips of fingers and toes. Quit, says Dr Gerada, "and your body will start to see the circulatory benefits within just 30 minutes".
2. Check for Reynaud's This inherited autoimmune condition affects between 3% and 20% of the adult population (mainly women) to varying extents and can appear at any age. The blood supply to fingers and toes (and sometimes ears and nose) is interrupted, making them go white and become very painful. With no cure, prevention (such as thermal gloves) is key, but see your GP if you display symptoms so that they can rule out other health problems associated with them. Visit raynauds.org.uk for more information.
3. Get moving Even if you have narrowed your arteries because of smoking, exercise can improve your circulation by helping smaller blood vessels develop, which can bypass any blockages.
4. Press the flesh The instinct to stick your ice-block feet against your partner's leg in bed is not for nothing. According to Dr Gerada, the best way to bring blood flow to the extremities is to touch warm flesh. "It's the optimal body temperature, and unlike a radiator, it will safely warm them up without burning."
5. Try natural boosters A recent study led by Dr Ann Walker, senior lecturer in human nutrition at Reading University, has shown that about 1g of dried ginger a day can improve the circulation in the hands and feet by expanding the blood vessels, warming the tissues. Hawthorn, says Walker, has also been found to support the circulation, lowering blood pressure by opening up minor blood vessels.