fist bump, hand shake, Health & Wellness, infectious disease prevention, spreading germs -

A Fist Bump Spreads Fewer Germs Than a Handshake, Study Says

fist bump, hand shake, Health & Wellness, infectious disease prevention, spreading germs -

A Fist Bump Spreads Fewer Germs Than a Handshake, Study Says

obama, fist bumpThe fist bump, which has been popularized by President Barack Obama, is not only the coolest way to greet someone, but now is the healthiest, according to a new study.

The study, published in the August issue of the American Journal of Infection Control, looked at whether alternative greetings would transmit fewer germs than the traditional handshake.

For the experiment, a researcher repeatedly dipped a gloved hand into a container filled with E. coli bacteria. After letting it dry, the scientist with the contaminated gloved-hand, then shook, fist-bumped or high-fived another person’s sterile gloved hand.

A fist bump transmits 1/20 the amount of bacteria that a handshake does. This is a healthier option than a high-five, which still spreads less than half the amount of germs typically spread through a handshake.

The longest, firmest handshakes transmitted the most.

“Adoption of the fist bump as a greeting could substantially reduce the transmission of infectious diseases between individuals,” study author Dr. David Whitworth of Aberystwyth University in the United Kingdom said in a statement. “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.”

The research was conducted in response to a growing movement to ban handshakes from the hospital environment. A recent article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association supported banning handshaking in health care settings.

Some don’t see the fist bump becoming a popular way for people to greet each other.

Mary Lou Manning, an associate professor in the school of nursing at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia and president-elect of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, feels that the best hygienic practices would be hand washing and banning handshaking.

In an interview with the Detroit Free Press, she comments, “[I] can’t even imagine health workers and patients greeting one another with a casual fist bump. A nod or slight bow might be nicer.”

S.C. Rhyne is a blogger and novelist in New York City. Follow the author on Twitter @ReporterandGirl, and visit her website at

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