handshake with gloves (Courtesy of Newser)

(Newser) – A good, firm handshake is a great way to spread germs, according to researchers who say infections could be reduced if people adopted fist bumps instead. The researchers dipped gloved hands in bacteria and then shook hands with, high-fived, or fist-bumped sterile-gloved counterparts, the Los Angeles Times reports. They found that handshakes spread 20 times more bacteria than fist bumps, while high-fives passed along about half as many germs as handshakes.

Part of the reasons handshakes spread so many more germs is because there's much more surface area meeting between hands, according to the researchers, who carried out their study after the Journal of the American Medical Association called for handshakes to be banned in health care settings, CBS reports. "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," especially during cold and flu season, the researchers concluded.

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