High time to replace the ‘dirty’ handshake

Is it time to swap the handshake for a fist bump?
Is it time to swap the handshake for a fist bump?
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It is a common courtesy that dates back centuries but academics claim the time has come to abandon the stately greeting of the handshake in favour of an entirely more modern gesture.

Bumping fists would instead be a far more appropriate method of welcoming someone as it would reduce the spread of infectious diseases, researchers at Aberystwth University said.

“People rarely think about the health implications of shaking hands,” said Dr Dave Whitworth, a senior lecturer at the university.

“But if the general public could be encouraged to fist bump, there is a genuine potential to reduce the spread of infectious diseases.”

The hygienic nature of the fist bump was in part due to its speed as well as there being a smaller contact area, Dr Whitworth said.

Using rubber gloves and a thick layer of the potentially deadly bacteria E.coli, scientists at the university in west Wales exchanged handshakes, high fives and fist bumps before working out which greeting gesture was the cleanest.

According to the study, high doses of bugs were passed on during a handshake. However, that was reduced by more than half during a high five and by 90 per cent when bumping fists.

Dr Whitworth added that the study, which is published in the August edition of the American Journal of Infection Control, was inspired by increased measures at promoting cleanliness in the workplace through the use of hand-sanitisers and keyboard disinfectants.

It remains to be seen whether the fist bump will catch on in formal settings, but perhaps the gesture will prove to be one health and safety message too far.