The time honored tradition of shaking hands is under pressure. Are there better ways to greet others without spreading germs?
For example bumping fists is one suggestion
Researchers at Aberystwth University
in Wales, United Kingdom, have been conducting studies on hand hygiene. Using rubber gloves and a thick layer of potentially deadly bacteria (E.coli), they exchanged handshakes, high fives and fist bumps to test which form of greeting put you least at risk. The study concluded that high doses of germs were passed on during handshakes, reducing by more than 50% for a high five and an amazing 90% for bumping fists.
One of the leading researchers, Dr Dave Whitworth, felt the higher hygienic results of the fist bump were because of
(a) its speed and
(b) the smaller contact area involved
Dr Whitworth would like to encourage us all to change from the habit of shaking hands to using the fist bump when greeting others, to provide a genuine potential for the reduction in the spread of infectious diseases and other germs.
The habit of shaking hands is a universal one and perhaps difficult to discard.
Here are the hand shaking habits of various nations
- In the USA, it is normal for men when they meet and greet to use a handshake, a smile and a hello.
- The British will usually shake hands only when they meet for the first time.
- French nationals (including children) shake hands with their friends (and often kiss them on both cheeks) both on meeting and leaving.
- Hungarian men who meet for the first time will use a firm handshake.
- In Russia, they follow the same habit where the handshake can be so firm, your hand will feel crushed.
- The Chinese will usually nod their heads and smile. They only shake hands in a formal situation.
- In Japan, the common greeting for men and women is to bow.
- In Arab countries, they shake hands with the right hand only. This hand shake lasts longer, but less firmly than in the West, but not with the opposite sex.
- Unique to the Inuit people is the traditional greeting of pressing the tip of one's nose against another's - and probably a good way of spreading respiratory infections too.
The African handshake!
You might like to see a video clip of the African handshake.
Because skin on skin contact is doubled and even trebled up, you could say that the chances of passing on an infection could increase by 100% or more.
Many people have a fear of picking up germs but fail to think about the health implications of shaking hands. And yet, hand washing can reduce the number of people who get sick with diarrhea and respiratory illnesses by up to 50%.
Perhaps outlawed is too strong a word. In an ideal world, clean hands are obviously the best solution but we do not live in the perfect world so isn't it time to encourage everyone to resist shaking hands and to take up the fist bump instead?