Before he accepted his Democratic nomination in 2008, President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama congratulated each other with the fist bump. This gesture has been used in the sports world for many years. It is nothing but knocking fists together called the fist bump or dap, used as a form of greeting or congratulatory gesture.
Research done by the Aberystwyth University in the UK said the fist bump is more hygienic than the handshake and could be well used in public to prevent the spread of harmful germs.
Germs move freely while shaking hands and spread contagious diseases,revealed a latest study led by Dr Dave Whitworth. The researchers were inspired by an analysis conducted at workplaces to promote cleanliness by using hand sanitisers and keyboard disinfectants to prevent the spread of germs.
To assess the impact of bacterial transfer during a handshake, Whitworth and a doctorate student Sara Mela dipped a hand glove into a broth of bacteria Escherichia coli, a bacteria commonly found in humans, animals environment and foods. E-coli can cause diarrhea, urinary tract infections and respiratory illness.
The researchers exchanged handshakes, high-fives and fist bumps. They tested the amount of germs transferred in each condition. They found that the handshake transferred the highest amount of the bacteria, while high-fives reduced the amount by 50 per cent. Germ transfer during the first-bump was 90 per cent lower than the common handshake. The stronger the handshake, the higher the bacterial transfer.
The team concluded that the fist bump was more hygienic than a handshake since it was faster and the area of the hand used was smaller. For microbes to transfer from person to person, direct contact is needed, and the fist-bump reduces the contact area.
"People rarely think about the health implications of shaking hands," said Whitworth. "If the general public could be encouraged to fist bump, there is genuine potential to reduce the spread of infectious diseases. One interesting question for further research, that our approach can't address, is to what extent the transmission of flu or other infectious disease does happen through the handshake compared to other routes."