Money & Business

Is the Fist Bump the New Handshake?

By / Jul 31, 2014 (iStock/Thinkstock)

A new study suggests that the fist bump, a greeting practice perfected by cool guys everywhere and made mainstream by President Obama, is better for our health than the handshake. The healthcare industry agrees.

A firm handshake is a great way to greet a person and get a conversation going. But it’s also a great way to spread a lot of germs.

For the sake of improving public health we encourage further adoption of the fist bump as a simple, free, and more hygienic alternative to the handshake.

According to a new study in the August edition of the American Journal of Infection Control, published by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), alternative methods of introduction that allow for less surface-area contact are healthier than the traditional handshake. Researchers from the Institute of Biological, Environmental, and Rural Sciences at Aberystwyth University in the United Kingdom performed a series of trials to determine which greetings would transmit fewer germs.

The winner? A quick fist bump.

“Adoption of the fist bump as a greeting could substantially reduce the transmission of infectious diseases between individuals,” David Whitworth, Ph.D., a coauthor of the study, said in a statement [PDF]. “It is unlikely that a no-contact greeting could supplant the handshake; however, for the sake of improving public health we encourage further adoption of the fist bump as a simple, free, and more hygienic alternative to the handshake.”

Handshakes were found to spread 10 times as much bacteria as fist bumps and twice as much as your basic high-five. A similar study published earlier this year in the Journal of the American Medical Association had nearly identical results.

APIC President-elect Mary Lou Manning, an associate professor in the school of nursing at Thomas Jefferson University, said the study’s findings are “not surprising,” and that, if it were up to her, any form of hand-to-hand greetings at hospitals would be banned. “That’s already starting to happen,” she told USA Today.

Fist Bump Tutorial

It’s hard to imagine a world where greetings don’t involve some sort of physical contact. So if the fist bump is to replace the handshake, it’s time to start practicing. Here’s a look at some variations on the greeting:

If you’re looking for a more professional version, The Atlantic offers some tips:

What’s your preferred method of greeting? Are you willing to give up the handshake in the service of public health? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Rob Stott

Rob Stott is a contributing editor for Associations Now. More »

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