From time immemorial, human beings have used various forms of greeting to foster social bonds, establish peace, and recognise each other’s presence.
Take Tibet for example, where a stuck-out tongue can signify a welcome; in New Zealand, the Māori engage in the hongi, the practice of pressing noses together as a way of sharing the breath of life that’s come directly from the gods, while in Ethiopia, men pull each other’s shoulders while rubbing the person’s back.
But one gesture stands out worldwide: the handshake.
Dating back to 5th century B.C. Greece, it was considered a peace symbol, ensuring no hidden weapons were carried. Medieval Europe then added the shake, dislodging any concealed arms inside sleeves.
But could there be more?
It might surprise you to learn this but after a handshake, many people instinctively raise their hands to their nose for a quick whiff (!).
In fact, some research suggests we might exchange social chemical signals through handshakes. While women’s tears have been found to send chemical cues, reducing testosterone and arousal in men, and sweat can communicate fear, it seems that hand-sniffing is yet another way of exchanging chemical cues.
Think about that next time you shake your colleague’s hand (and perhaps check to see if they have a good ol’ sniff afterwards!).
More Than a Greeting
Beyond cultural nuances, your handshake reveals rather a lot about your health. It turns out that its strength mirrors total-body vitality and forecasts your rate of ageing, with the firmer the grip, the stronger the health indicator.
Several studies have linked low grip strength to:
- heart disease
- and even early mortality.
In fact, a classic study of Swedish army recruits revealed that those with weaker grips in their late teens were more likely to die by their mid-50s!
The message is simple and clear: get stronger.
Even a slight increase in grip strength means less weakness and a longer, healthier life.
How to Measure your Grip Strength
The grip strength test is performed using a handgrip dynamometer (you can get one for under $50 from Amazon).
- Sit with your feet flat on the floor, elbow at a 90-degree angle.
- Hold the Dynamometer in one hand without it touching anything else.
- Squeeze as hard as possible without any other body movement.
- Perform the test three times on each hand, taking the average.
Measurement Cut-offs for Men and Women
- Men: Low grip strength is generally categorised as 26 kg or less.
- Women: A reading of 16 kg or less is considered low.
Whether it’s for business or health, it’s time to give a firm handshake the attention it deserves!
FOR A QUICK LAUGH, CHECK OUT THE MOST AWKWARD HANDSHAKE OF ALL TIME WHEN FORMER PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA TRIED TO SHAKE HANDS WITH CUBAN LEADER RAUL CASTRO AND THIS HAPPENED!