Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis (19) fist bumps
shortstop J.J. Hardy after hitting a two run home run
against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park in
Washington, DC. Photo: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Ditching handshakes in favour of more informal fist bumps
could help cut down on the spread of bacteria and illnesses,
according to a new study.
The study in the American Journal of Infection Control found
that fist bumps, where two people briefly press the top of
their closed fists together, transferred about 90 percent
less bacteria than handshakes.
"People rarely think about the health implications of shaking
hands," Dave Whitworth, a biologist at Aberystwyth University
in the United Kingdom who co-authored the study, said in a
"If the general public could be encouraged to fist bump,
there is genuine potential to reduce the spread of infectious
diseases," he said.
The fist bump appears to enjoy the support of both US
President Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama, both of whom have
been seen enthusiastically using the greeting, the study
The study used participants who wore gloves that had been
thoroughly coated in a film of non-pathogenic E. coli
bacteria. They then variously shook hands, high-fived and
fist-bumped fellow participants in sterile gloves and the
amount of transferred bacteria was examined.
High-five slaps transferred about half the amount of bacteria
as shaking hands.
Handshakes relay more germs because they result in a larger
area of contact between hands, but the strength and length of
handshakes also play a role, the study found.
"Transmission is greater with increased duration and grip,"
The research was prompted by an apparent increase in
workplace cleanliness measures, including the growing use of
hand sanitizers and keyboard disinfectants, the university
said in a statement.