President Barack Obama does a fist bump with Ethan Gibbs, the son of Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

President Barack Obama does a fist bump with Ethan Gibbs, the son of Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. Photo: Getty

Scientists have suggested we adopt fistbumps rather than handshakes as a way of greeting each other in a bid to stop the spread of diseases such as the flu.

Forming a fist and touching knuckles is faster than shaking hands and leaves less surface area exposed, reducing the chance for bacteria to spread from person to person, scientists at Aberystwyth University found. Using a fistbump reduced the transmission of E.coli by up to 90 per cent.

Once the preserve of American sports stars and rap artists, the gesture has entered the mainstream in recent years, most notably through Barack Obama’s fistbump with wife Michelle after securing the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008.

But despite the growing popularity of the fistbump, the handshake remains firmly ingrained in our culture and is unlikely to be replaced any time soon. In the interests of public health, Telegraph Men offer some other compelling reasons why we should ditch the 'shake and adopt the smart-casual 'bump - which the New York Times has described as “the Swiss Army knife of gestures”:

1. It’s egalitarian

With a handshake, there can be some powerplay involved when it comes to the positioning of the hands - with the person trying to assert their authority often trying to place their hand on top. No such qualms with the egalitarian fistbump.

2. It’s gender neutral

The handshake goes back to medieval times, with men offering their right hand to prove they weren’t about to draw their sword from a scabbard, worn on the left. It’s only relatively recently that women have started shaking hands, meaning there’s the awkward decision of whether to go for a shake or a kiss on the cheek when men and women meet for the first time. With the healthy new gesture, however, you just bump.

3. You can’t do a lingering fistbump

Aside from the increased potential for the spread of disease with a lingering handshake, it can become very awkward when somebody refuses to drop your hand and/or gaze. Etiquette experts recommend a maximum of two shakes, though this is advice is often ignored. Like a firework or a candle in the wind, the fistbump burns brightly but is gone in an instant.

4. Sweat

Most people have sweaty palms at some point. Few have sweaty knuckles.

5. It’s not an elbow tap

If we are going to drop the disease-ridden medieval handshake, it has to be replaced with something. Aside from the fistbump, infectious disease specialists have suggested an elbow tap as a less risky alternative. We’ll take the fistbump.

The Telegraph, London