What happens to your skin temperature when you exercise? Research talks

What happens to your skin temperature when you exercise? Research talks

23/06/2021 By: Víctor Escamilla Galindo & Ismael Fernández Cuevas Home

In the section of analysis of scientific articles, we are bringing today a video-summary about the results of the research on: the effects of different training methods (endurance -running-, strength -hypertrophy- and speed training) on skin temperature response.

Ismael Fernández-Cuevas (2012) published the bases for the application of thermography in sport. In his PhD entitled: “Effect of endurance, speed and strength training on skin temperature through infrared thermography” he evaluated the physiological response of the body using skin temperature measured with thermography. The main findings of this work highlighted the different responses according to the type of training method. Depending on the training objective the thermal response will be different. We know that if you stimulated more the cardiovascular system, the peripheral muscular system or the neuromuscular system, the skin temperature will differently.

In addition, from this doctoral thesis derive the investigations that classify the influence factors of the thermographic analysis, which must be taken into account during a thermography data collection in order to avoid the main biases. The publication: “Classification of factors influencing the use of infrared thermography in humans: A review” collects and classifies the factors that affect a data collection such as age, gender, body composition, time of acclimation or physical activity performed.

This is what happens to your skin temperature when you are training. Watch the video-summary

With the doctoral thesis, Ismael Fernández-Cuevas (2012) aimed to investigate for the first time the response of the skin temperature to exercise before, immediately after and 8 hours after training. For this purpose, three types of training were carried out during the investigation. They differed mainly in the metabolic route while obtaining energy and in its orientation to generate fatigue. On one hand, endurance training (45′ running) generates peripheral fatigue involving the cardiovascular system. On the other one, circuit strength training (hypertrophy) with multi-joint exercises generates peripheral fatigue involving the peripheral muscular system. Besides, speed training generates central fatigue involving the neuromuscular system. Therefore, a differentiated response in skin temperature was expected.

“In the part of the study about the effects on skin temperature of endurance, strength and speed training, the results in the skin temperature demonstrated specific responses depending on the type of training, region of interest, moment of the assessment and muscles involved in the training.”

Fernandez-Cuevas (2012)

The results showed that after endurance training a spotted (or “dalmatian”) pattern appears related to sweating and blood perfusion through the capillaries closest to the skin. This type of spotted response has also been demonstrated in the scientific literature with that produced by training that they affect the immune system to a greater extent. In addition, cardiovascular training will increase skin temperature immediately after training and to a greater extent 8 hours after training.

When you are training endurance, strength or speed, your skin temperature is different

Design of the study by Fernández-Cuevas 2012. Image: ThermoHuman

Strength training produces a thermal response with a more homogeneous pattern. This happens especially in the regions covering the muscles involved during the practice of training. In the investigation of Fernández-Cuevas (2012) the response immediately after exercise was not significant, while 8 hours after the exercise the skin temperature was increased significantly.

Finally, speed training produced a significant decrease in skin temperature immediately after exercise. This drop may be attributed to the efficiency of the thermoregulatory and neuromuscular systems and its central fatigue. But the interesting thing about the research is that this type of training also increased skin temperature 8 hours after it was performed.

If we want to better understand how thermography can be used to evaluate physiological responses to training or to quantify the internal load, timing matters. It seems that it is not a good time to evaluate immediately after the training, but 8 hours later.

Ismael Fernández Cuevas

Fernández-Cuevas et al. (2012) concluded that thermography could be very useful to better understand the complicated skin thermoregulation behaviour. Therefore, this investigation allows us the good practices using IRT in a more objective, accurate and professional way to improve the applications for the physical activity and sport sector. It can be especially useful to quantify the workload assimilation and physical recovery after training.

If you want to learn more research about how the human body and skin temperature reacts to training, please go see our previous post about HIIT.


Fernández-Cuevas, I. (2012). Efecto del entrenamiento de resistencia, velocidad y fuerza en la temperatura de la piel a través de la termografía infrarroja (Doctoral dissertation, Dissertation, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid).

Fernández-Cuevas, I., Marins, J., Lastras, J., Carmona, P.M., Cano, S., García-Concepción, M.Á., & Sillero-Quintana, M. (2015). Classification of factors influencing the use of infrared thermography in humans: A review. Infrared Physics & Technology, 71, 28-55.

Europa Thermohuman ThermoHuman has had the support of the Funds of the European Union and the Community of Madrid through the Operational Programme on Youth Employment. Likewise, ThermoHuman within the framework of the Export Initiation Program of ICEX NEXT, had the support of ICEX and the co-financing of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

CDTI Thermohuman has received funding from the Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI), in participation with the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), for the R+D activities involved in creating a new tool, based on thermography, for the prediction and prevention of rheumatoid arthritis. See project detail.