High five or low five? We break down what your supportive-slap style says about you


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Even if you’ve never paid much thought to disparities between high fives and low fives, wow, do they exist. Where high fives are highly visible and emblematic of an enthusiastic vibe, low fives convey lower-key, fly-under-the-radar quiet support. And at long last, there’s some real, science-backed evidence to inform which supportive slap reins supreme. A small study recently published in Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, tested the physiological and psychological effects of high and low fives on athletes, and high fives led to feelings of higher motivation, strength, and levels of cortisol. So for all intents and purposes related to gassing people up at workouts and beyond, Team High Five all the way. But if that’s not your high-five style, not all is lost. 

When you go in to offer a well-earned high five, you’re operating as the best version of yourself because a high five is a champion’s gesture. It communicates the ability to acknowledge and visibly cosign someone else’s job well done. It’s as much a reflection of your good judgment and generous support as the receiver’s achievements; high fivers have strong self-esteem. They can do Spiderman push-ups without dying and are ready AF for another day when they shut their eyes and fall asleep effortlessly.

So sure, low fivers might not be the most enthusiastic in the world, but they’re not to be discounted. After all, you don’t want every person in your life to be a boundlessly excited boutique fitness instructor who is SO PROUD OF YOUR GOOD WORK TODAY, right? There’s something to be said for the realist low-fivers who still might go to the gym but, like definitely don’t want to be there, and aren’t afraid to admit it.

The low five is the go-to move of every kid forced onto a softball team in second grade. True to its downer name, a low five screams, “Good game, good game, good game, I wish my mom didn’t force athleticism on me.”

Think about how the low five is the go-to move of every kid forced onto a softball team in second grade. True to its downer name, a low five screams, “Good game, good game, good game, I wish my mom didn’t force athleticism on me.” And while my mother, try as she might, can’t control my life choices now, the low five does imply a sort of reluctance for any situation at hand. But hey, consolation trophy for showing up.

There’s also a double high five, the equivalent of a double air kiss (indeed it shows commitment, but man, is it extra). And the “up high, down low, too slow!” which means you are either a vindictive, mean child or someone’s uncle. Finally there’s the high five, hold, and shake—a strengthening power move that’s also a reflection of your commitment to caffeinating before your 6 a.m. SoulCycle class, you beautiful monster.

And if you’re that person who, at the end of every gathering, makes everyone put their hands in the middle and shout “GO TEAM,” you believe people should push themselves past their threshold of what they actually want to do in all spheres. You’re a natural-born leader, an extrovert, and the one who always instigates ice-breaker activities at social events. Also, I passionately hate you.

That said, the real bottom line here is that—while high fives might lead to more energy-boosting effects—when it comes to hand smacks, the most important takeaway is simply to meet somewhere in the middle. Nothing’s more depressing than being left hanging. (Unless you’re the uncle who won’t stop with that “too slow!” business. Please stop.)

High fives aside, this slightly NSFW habit might boost your workout. And clean out your closet, because we have a slew of cute activewear that’ll make you want to hit the gym.

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