5-speed listening (Level 6)

Fist bumps more hygienic than handshakes



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A new(ish) and alternative form of greeting and showing respect has been found to be more hygienic than shaking hands. We have all seen it on TV. Basketball and baseball players do it after a teammate scores. Rock stars and actors do it onstage at awards ceremonies. Even U.S. President Barack Obama does it. What is it? Well, it's fist bumping. It's kind of like a high five, except the hand is clenched into a ball and the other person's fist is given a gentle nudge, knuckles to knuckles. Researchers at the University of Aberystwyth in Wales have discovered that this twenty-first-century greeting spreads one-twentieth of the germs than a traditional handshake does and around one-tenth of the germs in a high five.

An article on Wikipedia explains that the fist bump originated with American motorcycle gangs in the 1940s. It was easier and safer to fist bump another rider than to shake hands when two bikes were side by side at traffic lights. It achieved global exposure 70 years later when in 2008, President Obama and his wife Michelle fist bumped during a televised presidential campaign speech. There is less skin-to-skin contact during a fist bump so the chance of spreading germs is lower. A researcher said: "People rarely think about the health implications of shaking hands, but if the general public could be encouraged to fist bump, there is a genuine potential to reduce the spread of infectious diseases.

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