Temperature and cardiorespiratory fitness in adults over 65 years of age
We present a study in which the resting thermal pattern and the acute response of skin temperature to exercise were examined in individuals over 65, with a focus on the role of cardiorespiratory fitness. Thermography is an imaging technique used to measure skin temperature and can be helpful in assessing the body’s thermal response to exercise.
A recent study by Corral-Pérez et al. (2023) utilized thermography to investigate skin temperature patterns at rest and after exercise in older adults and to determine if there are differences based on gender and cardiorespiratory fitness.
Participants’ skin temperature was measured before and after a graded exercise test. Additionally, the participants’ cardiorespiratory fitness was evaluated using a 6-minute walk test.
This research involved 92 older adults (51 men and 41 women) with a mean age of 68.48 ± 3.01 years from 13 Public Health Centers. Participants underwent a 15-minute acclimatization period in a controlled environment before thermal imaging.
A FLIR E60 camera was used to capture 6 images, representing 25 regions of interest (ROIs). ROIs were determined using anatomical landmarks and included regions such as the lateral forehead, lateral head, anterior and posterior arms, hands, fingers, thighs, legs, and feet.
Figure 1: Thermal images of six regions of interest
Graded exercise tests were conducted, and skin temperature responses were recorded before, during, and after exercise. Additionally, comparisons were made between male and female groups to identify potential differences in resting and exercise skin temperature patterns, and the relationship between skin temperature and cardiorespiratory fitness in both genders was examined.
Results of Thermography in Older Adults
The study results indicated that older adults with higher cardiorespiratory fitness exhibited less variation in skin temperature after exercise, suggesting better thermoregulatory capacity. It was also found that older adults with lower cardiorespiratory fitness displayed greater variation in skin temperature after exercise, indicating a reduced thermoregulatory capacity. Therefore, maintaining good cardiorespiratory fitness appears to improve thermoregulatory capacity during and after exercise, which can have significant implications for the health and well-being of older adults.
Regarding sex differences, significant variations in resting skin temperature patterns were found between men and women. Men, regardless of their cardiorespiratory fitness level, had a higher resting skin temperature overall. Furthermore, both men and women exhibited similar skin temperature responses after graded exercise, with increases in distal body parts, decreases in proximal areas, and stable central temperature. Increases in skin temperature in the lower extremities were significantly associated with cardiorespiratory fitness in both men and women.
These findings suggest that gender-specific skin temperature patterns should be considered when analyzing skin temperature in older adults. Additionally, skin temperature may be a promising predictor of cardiorespiratory fitness in this population.
The Use of Thermography
The use of thermography in this study serves several purposes:
- Analyzing skin temperature patterns in older adults, providing insights into thermoregulation and thermal responses in this population.
- Investigating differences in skin temperature patterns based on gender and cardiorespiratory fitness.
- Serving as a tool to assess the effectiveness of exercise programs and design interventions tailored to the specific needs of older adults.
Thermography can be a valuable tool to assess the body’s thermoregulatory capacity during and after exercise in older adults.
The study results also suggest that cardiorespiratory fitness can be an important factor in the body’s ability to regulate temperature during and after exercise, highlighting the following:
- Significant differences exist in resting skin temperature patterns between men and women, regardless of their cardiorespiratory fitness level.
- Both men and women display similar skin temperature responses after graded exercise, with increases in distal body parts, decreases in proximal areas, and stable central temperature.
- Increases in skin temperature in the lower extremities are significantly associated with cardiorespiratory fitness in both men and women.
In summary, this study (Corral-Pérez et al., 2023) demonstrates that in individuals over 65, skin temperature is an indicator that reveals gender-based differences before exercising, but not after. Furthermore, these data are related to each subject’s cardiorespiratory status, regardless of their gender. Consequently, thermography can be a tool to assess cardiorespiratory fitness in individuals over 65 with a simple capture and analysis of a thermal image at rest.
Corral-Pérez, J., Martinez-Tellez, B., Velázquez-Díaz, D., Ponce-Gonzalez, J. G., Carbonell-Baeza, A., & Jiménez-Pavón, D. (2023). Thermal resting pattern and acute skin temperature response to exercise in older adults: Role of cardiorespiratory fitness. Journal of Thermal Biology, 117, 103678.