Fist-bumps: They're not just a cool thing the president does and a weirdly potent symbol of cultural panic. They're also, new research suggests, a much healthier, less germ-y alternative to shaking hands, given that handshakes are basically an express train for germs.
Or so claims a study in the American Journal of Infectino Control. As EurekAlert! explains:
[R]esearchers performed trials to determine if alternative greetings would transmit fewer germs than the traditional handshake. In this experiment, a greeter immersed a sterile-gloved hand into a container of germs. Once the glove was dry, the greeter exchanged a handshake, fist bump, or high-five with a sterile-gloved recipient. Exchanges randomly varied in duration and intensity of contact.
After the exchange, the receiving gloves were immersed in a solution to count the number of bacteria transferred during contact. Nearly twice as many bacteria were transferred during a handshake compared to the high-five, and significantly fewer bacteria were transferred during a fist bump than a high-five. In all three forms of greeting, a longer duration of contact and stronger grips were further associated with increased bacterial transmission.
"Adoption of the fist bump as a greeting could substantially reduce the transmission of infectious diseases between individuals," said corresponding author, David Whitworth, PhD. "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."
There's actually a growing movement among medical professionals to do away with handshakes in clinical settings. The PSAs encouraging kids to fist-bump for health purposes should be a lot of fun.