A University of Calgary dean of medicine wants people to shake off an old tradition and “pound” in a new one.

Inspired by the now-famous fist pound of U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, Dr. Tom Feasby hopes to bring the hand gesture into the mainstream to help avoid the spread of the flu — especially with the threat of H1N1.

“I think one of the biggest germ spreading actions is shaking hands. I want to eliminate shaking hands and replace it with something cool, also known as the pound,” Feasby said.

While Feasby acknowledges there may be some hesitance to the change, he has already seen the likes of Mayor Dave Bronconnier and Alberta Health Minister Ron Liepert use the gesture.

“It’s a Canadian thing to do, shake hands, but sports teams and Olympic athletes are prepared to make the switch. I really hope the anti-viral action goes viral.”

The fist bump or pound is safer, he explains, because only the backs of the hands touch, instead of the palm where germs are spread from hand-to-mouth.

“Switching to the pound will avoid contacting other people’s palms and will increase awareness of hand hygiene. It’s a win-win.”