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article imageForget the handshake — The fist-bump is healthier

By Martin Laine     Jul 28, 2014 in Health
There was a time when you could take the measure of a man’s character by the firmness of his handshake. But that ancient form of greeting may soon be a thing of the past, pushed aside by the new kid on the block, the fist-bump.
More than just a passing fad, the modest knuckle-touching gesture caught the world’s attention in 2008 when no less a figure than a future president fist-bumped the future First Lady at the Democratic National Convention. Add to that, it now has science on its side.
According to an article in the Washington Post, a new study shows that the fist-bump passes along one-twentieth of the germs of the traditional handshake. This is also better than its cousin the high-five, that still transmits about half the amount of germs of the handshake.
Earlier research has focused on the risks of picking up germs from various surfaces, and the importance of frequent hand-washing to prevent picking up and transmitting germs from these surfaces is well-known.
Researcher David Whitworth of Abersytwyth University in Wales said his study is the first to look at the handshake as a transmitter of germs. In the experiment, he and a student, Sarah Mela, repeatedly shook hands, high-fived, and fist bumped. One wore a glove covered with bacteria, the other a sterilized glove. After each contact, they measured the amount of bacteria that had been transferred.
The reason the fist-bump seems to be the healthier choice, Whitworth said, is because of the smaller area of contact. To measure this, they also went through the gestures with paint on their gloves to mark the areas of contact.
Their findings are being published Monday in the American Journal of Infection Control.
The exact origins of the fist-bump are unclear, though it’s generally accepted that it started among athletes, evolving out of the high-fives and low-fives popular during the 1980’s, according to a Time magazine article.
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