Tack Some Extra Years Onto Your Lifespan

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You can do more for your health. And it’s not that hard.

Eat healthy foods. Exercise regularly. Don’t smoke. We hear these instructions from doctors, friends, parents, and strangers on the internet so often that the words start to lose their impact. And let’s face it, healthy habits are hard to adhere to. But perhaps if there’s proof they work, then they might be easier to swallow.

In a study in the journal Circulation, researchers studied five lifestyle factors that influence how long humans live. They researchers calculated that people who adhered to five things—drink no more than one glass of alcohol per day (two for men), maintain a healthy body weight, eat a high-quality diet, abstain from smoking, and exercise at a moderate-to-vigorous pace (think a brisk walk, at least) for 30 minutes or more a day—had a greater chance of living longer past age 50. Women who followed all five practices lived 14 years longer, on average, than peers who didn’t adhere to any of them. Men lived 12 years longer under the same conditions.

First, a High-Five

We are generally doing a pretty good job of keeping each other alive. As a nation, we are living far longer than we ever have in the past. Epidemiologists often judge life expectancy as the number of years you live after you reach the age of 50. Prior to that, deaths are often from diseases not associated with getting older like—like accidents or chronic illnesses such as cancer. Today, the average age that people who make it past 50 live is 83.3 for women and 79.8 for men. By many standards, that’s a good long life. In 1940, the life expectancy for all Americans was just 62.9 years. By 2000, it had reached 76.8, and then 78.8 in 2014.

Much of that jump can be attributed to improvements in the standard of living across our country, the fact that far less Americans nowadays smoke, and the great discoveries we’ve made in medicine.

But here’s the bad news: Despite our vast improvements over the last century, when we compare our current life expectancy to that of other rich nations, we aren’t doing so great. In fact, we have a shorter life expectancy than nearly every other wealthy country in the world. There are obviously other factors that could be at play. For one, the United States is the only rich country in the world that doesn’t provide universal health coverage to all its citizens. Access to healthcare is a known factor that contributes to prolonged health, infectious disease prevention, and chronic disease prevention and management. But the researchers behind the new study argue that America could get closer to the lifespans of other nations by making certain changes in their lifestyles.

The five that they found are what they call low-risk lifestyle-related factors. To identify them, they analyzed data from two large longitudinal studies—the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. These are projects that follow people’s lifestyles and track their health for a number of years. These took place for around 30 years, starting in 1980 and ‘83 and ending in 2014. Here’s the five conclusions they found, and the scientific evidence we have to support on each one.

A Healthy Weight

To understand the influence of weight, researchers focused on people’s body mass index, or BMI. That number is a comparison of a person’s height and their weight. You can calculate your own by dividing your weight by your height squared. BMI can be tricky, though. Doctors use it to get a rough estimate of body fat, but for any one individual person, it can be fairly inaccurate. Athletes with high levels of muscle or elderly people with low levels of muscle can get BMIs that do not represent their level of body fat, and not all fat is created equal—some people carry their extra weight in more dangerous places than others. However, when the population number you are studying gets high enough, the outliers average out and BMI paints a far more accurate picture, though still not a perfect one.

What the researchers found was not incredibly surprising. People with BMIs between 18.5 and 22.9 had a higher chance of living longer than those who had BMIs outside that range.

We pretty much knew this already, and it makes sense. Carrying around excess fat can change the way your cells work, causing conditions like type two diabetes, and make more work for your cardiovascular system, which eventually makes you more susceptible to high blood pressure.

The cool thing about body weight, though, is that even small levels of weight loss can mean big differences in health. Research shows that losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. More weight loss can lead to an even greater reduction in these risks—up to a point. Being too thin can be detrimental to your health as well. For example, not having enough fat can prevent the movement of hormones throughout the body. That’s why it’s important to work with a doctor when attempting major weight loss.

Moderate Alcohol Consumption

The researchers also found that people who consumed a moderate amount of alcohol had a better chance of living longer than those who were heavy drinkers. They defined moderate alcohol consumption as five to 15 grams per day for women and five to 30 grams per day for men. According to the National Institutes of Health, a standard drink contains about 14 grams of pure alcohol. That equates to 12 fluid ounces of beer, eight of malt liquor, five of table wine, and 1.5 of distilled spirits.

The available evidence around moderate drinking is tricky. Researchers have solid evidence to say that heavy drinking can absolutely be detrimental to your health. But the line between moderate drinking and abstaining from alcohol altogether is fuzzy. Whether people who moderately drink fare better than people who abstain is even murkier. We still don’t have a solid study with enough participants to back that up. For now, it’s safe to say that moderate drinking will not cause you severe harm, but whether it’s better for your health than abstaining remains to be seen. If you’re trying to make the absolute best health decisions based on the available evidence, the smartest move is probably to drink very little or not at all.

A High-Quality Diet

Over the past 100 years, we’ve gotten really, really good at understanding the mechanisms through which the human body works, and engineering medications that fix things when various bodily functions go awry. But in the process, we’ve mostly neglected the preventative health benefits of simply adhering to a healthy diet.

To understand the influence of the foods the participants ate on their health, the researchers used something called the Alternate Healthy Eating Index Score. It breaks foods down into their various components. For example, lasagna can break down into ground beef, ricotta cheese, onions, and so on. The cheese is further broken down into a dairy component and a fat component. Points—on a scale of one to 10—were assigned to the participants; a 10 meant total adherence to the recommended servings of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, red meat, sugar, and so on. Those recommendations are already associated with a reduced risk of various diseases like heart disease and diabetes.

Participants who scored in the top 40 percent were deemed healthy eaters. Nutrition studies are, of course, hard to do because of all the other factors that could contribute, like exercise, stress, and environmental factors. And human test subjects are notoriously bad at accurately reporting their own eating habits. But, there’s good research to show that poor diets have a direct influence on various factors like blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and body weight. To date, the best diet to follow is probably the Mediterranean diet, however, if you focus on eating a variety of whole, unprocessed foods most of the time, you are doing great things for your health. Just find a nutritional plan you can stick to—enjoying unhealthy things occasionally in moderation is much better than periodically failing hard at your strict diet.

Not Smoking

We used to think smoking was benign, or even good for us (thanks, tobacco lobby!). Doctors smoked and often recommended cigarettes to their patients to reduce stress or lose weight. But those days are long over. Solid evidence shows smoking significantly increases your chances of lung cancer as well as other lung and heart diseases. The decline in smoking over the past 50 or so years is a major reason the average lifespan in America has gone up. Let’s not ever reverse that. If you want to live longer and you’re still smoking (or vaping, for that matter)—well, that doesn’t make much sense. Do whatever you can to stop.

Exercise Daily

In the study, researchers found that those who exercised for at least 30 minutes a day at a moderate to vigorous pace (including brisk walking) were in the lowest-risk group for developing certain diseases later in life, and thus they had the potential to live longer.

Exercise does two main things: it boosts metabolism and contributes to weight loss or weight stability. Those two factors significantly increase your chances of living longer. But researchers are finding a whole bunch of other things that happen in your body when you exercise, like the creation of new heart cells and an increase in bone strength. One recent study suggests that even if you have a family history of heart disease, exercise can reduce your risk. Working out can boost your mood, too. Trying to remember how good you will feel after you exercise could help you get going.

How Things Accumulate

The key takeaway from this study is that the more of these lifestyle factors people adhered to, the more likely they were to live longer after hitting 50. However, the researchers say, this is on a population level. To better understand people on an individual level, the researchers want to study smaller groups with known certain conditions, like those who had been diagnosed with cancer previously or those with known cardiovascular disease. How large of a benefit do these five lifestyle factors have on those specific populations? More of those studies will help researchers and doctors determine what you should do to live a long and healthy life. But in the meantime, you’ll have a hard time finding a doctor who will tell you not to follow the practices listed above. So let’s get cracking.

Posted in Life Stuff by Being BOB. No Comments

The Do’s and Don’ts of Selling Your Home

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Many homeowners will tell you how emotional it was to buy their first home, but you rarely hear about their experience selling it. It’s only natural to grow attached after creating so many wonderful memories, which can make selling a challenging process. 

Fortunately, you’re not in it alone. Together, we can simplify the process and make sure you get top dollar when selling your home.

Let’s get started with some simple do’s and don’ts for selling your first home: 

What should you do?

  • Get your home ready for the market. We’ll collaborate on strategic repairs and updates, home staging, photography and more options to attract buyers. 

  • Plan for your next move. We’ll work together to make sure that you’ve got your next home lined up when your current home sells. 

  • Be aware of your timeline. While our goal is to sell your house fast, you never know what hiccups a buyer might encounter along the way. Being aware of your timeline is essential.

  • Prepare to negotiate. After the home inspection, the buyer may ask for repairs or concessions. That’s why it’s always best for you to have a local real estate expert represent you when selling.

What shouldn’t you do?

  • Don’t assume you have to sell in the spring. Homes are sold every day. In fact, it can often be in your best interest to avoid selling in the spring because you’ll have less competition. Ultimately, the right time to sell is when you’re ready. 

  • Don’t price based on your emotions. You value your beloved home, but if it’s priced beyond its worth, it will sit on the market. We’ll review local comps and discuss your home’s market value together.

  • Don’t forget to plan for the closing. To seal the deal, be fully prepared for settlement. Bring your ID and be prepared to review and sign paperwork.

Have you been thinking about selling your home? Or are you just curious about what it’s worth in today’s market? Reach out today for a comprehensive review.

What Kind of Person Pays to See Phish 100 Times?

The man from whom I bought my ticket had seen Phish over 100 times. Encouragingly enough, he was in excellent physical shape and had a business and a wife and multiple kids who were spending the rainy closing hours of 2018 a safe and conspicuous distance from Madison Square Garden.

It is possible to thrive even with a Phish addiction, and in some cases impossible to thrive without it—We should all hope for obsessions and enablers as healthy as my scalper’s, although “scalper” cheapens the relationship somewhat. In the Phish world, I had just experienced what’s known as a “miracle.” Of course on any major holiday one man’s miracle is another night at the office and I soon found myself schmoozing a few of the Garden’s production men, who seemed amused at my long-burning curiosity about what the arena’s attic is like (apparently it’s a cluttered labyrinth of submarine-like industrial passageways and during the Phish run it gets incredibly loud because of its proximity to the amplifiers that the band hangs from the room’s gently sloping ceiling and also becomes pretty stuffy because of the smoke rising from the crowd not far below). “It used to be like it was raining,” one of the productions guys said of the torrents of glow sticks that cascade from the upper decks during Phish shows. “Now, we barely have anything to pick up afterwards.” You all are getting old.

Is there any conceivable logic to seeing a single band 100 times? It’s a question I’ve often asked myself having seen Phish on a measly 17 occasions. How many “Simples” does one need before happiness and fulfillment are achieved? Will my existence really be incomplete until I’ve seen “Magrupp and the Watchful Horsemasters” played live? (Obviously, yes). Does the band even give as much of a shit as we do? That last one was something of an open question among fans up until their Baker’s Dozen stunt in the summer of 2017—a run of 13 shows at the Garden in which they were jammier and weirder and freer than they’d been in a long time. For the next year’s worth of decent to sometimes well-north-of-decent live performances, the more honest fans would bitterly reflect that it took a high-stakes gimmick for Phish to really become their best and truest selves, after which they reverted back to late-period predictability. And then, another coup: The surprise live debut of an album’s worth of some of the weirdest and funkiest and sneakily darkest (and absolute best) songwriting of their career, introduced via the magisterial Kasvot Växt Halloween prank of 2018. The quartet that played four nights at the Garden last week was one that really did seem to grasp the existential significance of having the “Simple” that’s been rattling around in your head for years or decades dazzlingly manifested in sound and vision. For my money, they played just such a “Simple” during the opening hour of 2019.

Obsessions are indulged for—or, more cynically, sustained by —that handful of moments in which they make absolute, perfect sense. So it was when Phish embarked on a hazy, grungy “Steam” in the first set on New Year’s Eve, with the choruses punctuated with decidedly un-Phish like eruptions reminiscent of the end of “Day in the Life” (come to think it, the “No Quarter” they played Saturday night sometimes reminded me more of like, Ride than it did of Led Zeppelin or Phish). A Bob Dylan lyric occurred to me during the glorious windup for “Run Like an Antelope:” “It frightens me, the awful truth of how sweet life can be.” And then almost immediately I remembered the doggerel that closes Gravity’s Rainbow, which is written in a notably similar meter to “Auld Lang Syne:” “There is a hand to turn the time/Though thy glass today be run.”

Phish has only a small number of songs that really stand on their own and the band’s power comes from the four musicians’ ability to both embrace and transcend the inherent absurdity of their material. But on New Year’s their songs took on an unexpectedly profound quality. On “Down With Disease” Trey Anastasio and Page McConnell were yelling “stop!” at the galloping hour hand. “The day is longer than your year,” they insisted as the outset of “Mercury,” just around 11:50 PM. The jam that preceded midnight felt intense and sludgy and pleasantly unmelodic, liminal in a way that channeled the psychic and temporal moment. Then thousands of silver balloons dropped from the ceiling, and the crowd batted them around like giant pachinko balls. Dressed in space suits and screened by a forest of glistening streamers, Trey and Mike Gordon hovered a hundred feet above the crowd, absolutely nailing “Say it to me S.A.N.T.OS” (one of funkiest, weirdest, and darkest of the Kasvot Växt numbers) while harnessed far, far away from their pedals and monitors. Dancers dressed as pepperoni pizza slices and flying saucers traipsed across the stage, and a few of the inflatable giant green aliens crowd-surfed down 7th avenue after the show finally let out around 1 AM. These were the hands to turn the time, though thy glass today be run.

During one of the set breaks, a Phish newbie in my section said he was once under the mistaken impression they were a Christian band, with their name being a possible reference to the multiplication of the loaves and fishes (Matthew, chapter 15). Now we all know that Phish is a Jewish band as anyone who went to Jewish sleepaway camp in the past quarter-century or listened to the YEM > Yerushalayim Shel Zahav > YEM they played on July 16th, 1993 can attest. But this is a beautiful connection nonetheless, this idea of a small thing becoming a cosmically big one, or at least of the existence of some higher alchemy that human witnesses can verify. Were Phish, in fact, a Christian band, the name might refer to the idea that live music and religion share some core experiential similarity (in fact it’s derived from the last name of drummer John Fishman).

A Phish show is its own strange sort of spiritual community that exists for a few hours at a time and then dissolves with fearful instancy. They’re not exactly a popular band or one with particularly broad appeal; their success has come from mining the same somewhat large group of enthusiasts over the course of several decades and effectively preventing that audience from wandering off. The people at a Phish show really do want to be there—every square inch of the floor and seating bowl are filled at the Garden and only the truly inebriated manage to stand perfectly still. No one watches indifferently. Five hours pass in a moment, and the lacuna in real life jolts to an unwelcome end. “This is so sad,” someone in my section remarked, watching the balloons and ribbons being swept away. “The universe is no longer here.”

By Armin Rosen

The True Value of a Real Estate Agent

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With the wealth of information available online, many of today’s consumers are incredibly knowledgeable about the home buying and selling process. Add in the desire to save — or make — as much money as possible, and it’s easy to see why you might be tempted to pass on hiring an agent. 

But before flying solo, consider the benefits of having an empathetic and experienced negotiator on your side.

Local Data and Insider Knowledge  

You may have lived in your neighborhood since the kids started school and know exactly how much the neighbor’s house sold for. But do you have all the tools of an expert? An agent’s local data can show you everything that’s selling right now and what buyers in your area are prepared to pay for your house.

Contract Expertise

Buying a home is one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make — and the amount of paperwork and legal jargon required proves it. Omitting or miswording even one line can lead to a costly mistake that’s much higher than the price of an agent’s commission. 

Skilled Negotiation

Haggling over contract contingencies and home pricing can lead to negotiation fatigue and poor judgment calls for emotionally invested buyers and sellers. One key reason to work with a real estate agent is to have an experienced negotiator who’ll put your best interests first. 

Professional Networks

The complexity of property transactions means contractors, attorneys, lenders and financial advisers are also involved. A well-connected agent can put you in touch with other qualified and trustworthy real estate professionals who are ready to help. 

Thinking about listing your home? Or looking for a new place to call home? Reach out today. 

Posted in Listings Real Estate Technology by Being BOB. No Comments

Real Estate Opportunities for Entrepreneurs

Even new entrants can profit from one of the economy’s most dynamic and profitable sectors.

5 Real Estate Opportunities for Entrepreneurs in 2020

Real estate has always been one of the most attractive investment offerings. Its relative stability makes it a good option for capital appreciation, and when done well, it can generate exponential profits. In 2019, the housing market made significant gains, driven largely by a reduction in supply and very low mortgage rates. Experts predict that the trend is likely to continue, meaning that for entrepreneurs and investors looking to turn serious profits, real estate is definitely the place to be looking at. Here are five ways to enter the market quickly and profitably.

1. Real Estate Mutual Funds

You can choose mutual funds that invest generally or select one that’s focused on a specific type of investment. Real estate mutual funds restrict their activity to property trading and other related businesses, which means that they will benefit from the trend of profitability in the sector.

When you’re making a decision as to which fund to put your money into, consider its track record and methodology. Just because two funds style themselves as real estate mutual funds does not mean that they have the same investment rules. Find one that has consistently made a profit and whose investment styles you’re confident in. Mind the fees too – lower is better, but be sure you’re not sacrificing quality.

2. Real Estate Investment Trusts

These are similar to real estate mutual funds, with the primary difference being the degree of control an individual investor has. If you’re a hands-on investor, you should consider REITs. They have shares you can buy as many or as few of as you like, based on your forecast of their performance.

Mutual funds invest in REITs as part of their overall portfolios, but the decisions regarding which investments to make will be left in the hands of fund managers. Stick to publicly traded REITs; the private ones might promise better returns, but there’s much less oversight and thus more risk.

3. Short-Term Rentals

You knew this was coming, right? Rental property has always been one of the surefire ways to earn money in real estate, as long as you get the fundamentals right. Whether you’re constructing homes or renovating, renting out your property will bring in a steady income that you can re-invest into the business or use for other purposes.

Nowadays, the traditional rental model is still workable, but is taking a backseat compared to short-term rental services like  Airbnb. You can often charge a premium, especially if your property is in a vacation destination. “The good thing is that you can hire a property manager to handle all aspects of the process for you,” according to Morgan Akchehirlian, CEO of Co-Host Market. “There is a ton of opportunity in short-term rentals, and I believe that once people see them, they are going to leap at them.”

4. Investments in Real-Estate Focused Companies

As they say, sometimes the people who make the most money are not the miners, but the traders selling pickaxes. For instance, many startups are using AI, machine learning and other frontline technologies to provide services to real estate companies, homeowners and other stakeholders — and making a killing while doing it.

If you have an idea for a company in the real estate sphere, now is a good time to launch it. You can also go the indirect route by investing in a promising company. As always, do your due diligence and ensure that the business model is workable and likely to provide good returns before you put your money, time and effort in.

5. Real Estate Notes

In essence, this is you buying up a debt that’s owed by a homeowner and then collecting on it. Since these are usually sold on distressed properties in which there has been a default in payment, you can likely buy notes for a deeply discounted price. The options are then to either foreclose or work with the homeowner to restructure the payments.

Investors focused on quick, high profits can take the shorter route and just foreclose (in compliance with the contracts and relevant laws and regulations), but many people also take the longer view and focus on restructuring the debt in a way that’ll be more convenient for the homeowner to discharge. This route might take longer and not yield quite as much profit, but it’s more stable and would also bring the benefit of knowing you’re helping people in need while you make invest and earn.

On the whole, entrepreneurs and investors would do well to look toward real estate in the coming year. The market has been growing, and it doesn’t look ready to stop anytime soon. As always, due diligence is crucial to keeping your capital safe, ensuring you earn profits and keeping yourself clear of dispute and legal issues. Leverage all your personal business experiences to build the company you’ve always wanted to work for.
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Pritom Das Guest Writer Founder/CEO of TravelerPlus November 20, 2019

Winning a real-estate bidding war

The housing market is less competitive these days but bidding wars can still happen.

Home buyers today may not face as much competition as they did a few years ago, but they should still prepare a strategy for dealing with a bidding war.

Want to be sure that you’ll place the winning bid a home? Then you better be prepared to pay in cash.

A new report from real-estate brokerage Redfin examined the most successful strategies to use when dealing with competing bids for homes. Far and away, the best approach was to make an all-cash offer, researchers found.

Committing to buy a home without financing more than tripled the likelihood of placing the winning bid. The study was based on an analysis of the outcomes of 9,000 offers that Redfin agents wrote on behalf of home buyers who faced competition for their desired property between January 2018 and September 2019.

The last time Redfin analyzed the best strategies for approaching a bidding war back in 2017, all-cash offers also came out on top of the list. But at that time, making an all-cash offer only increased the likelihood of success by 97%.

“A couple of years ago, the market was much more competitive than it is now,” Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather said in the report. “Sellers might have had multiple all-cash bids to choose from, and offer price more often ended up being the determining factor.”

A separate report released by Redfin last week indicated that only 10% of offers written by the brokerage’s agents sparked a bidding war, representing a 10-year low.

Much like bidding wars, all-cash offers on homes have become less common. All-cash sales only accounted for 17% of existing-home sales in September, according to the National Association of Realtors. Comparatively, all-cash deals were extremely popular in the wake of the Great Recessions, driven by investors looking to scoop up homes quickly at the low prices then. In November 2013, 42% of residential property sales were completely cash transactions.

Nevertheless, all-cash offers remain competitive in today’s market because of the hurdles securing financing can pose. As a result, sellers in today’s market appreciate the assurances all-cash offers provide that the deal won’t fall through.

The second-most effective strategy from the 2019 analysis was writing a personal letter to the home’s seller. This increased the odds of success by 59%.

One strategy that has become far less effective as the market has cooled over the past two years is offering to waive a financing contingency. These clauses indicate that the offer is dependent on the buyer receiving financing for the purchase from a lender and are designed to protect the buyer from liability in the event that a sale falls through because they couldn’t secure a loan.

While waiving this contingency was previously shown to increase the odds of winning a bidding war by 58%, nowadays it will only boost a buyer’s chance by 20%.

Redfin also investigated the effectiveness of two additional strategies some buyers pursue — waiving the inspection contingency and conducting a pre-inspection of the property. The analysis showed these approaches did not lead to an increased likelihood of winning a bidding war.

Are Airports Secretly Manipulating You?

Next time you fly, pay close attention to the airports. Their design may be more intentional than you think.

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Photo by DANIEL BOCKWOLDT/AFP/Getty Images.

Over the years, airports have evolved from bare-bones transportation hubs for select travelers to bustling retail centers for millions. They’re being designed to both complement and influence human behavior. Everything from the architecture and lighting to the trinkets on sale in the gift shops is strategic. Here are a few tricks airports use to help travelers relax, get to their gates safely and on time, and hopefully spend some money along the way.

1. They make sure you can see the tarmac.

One key to a successful airport is easy navigation. Travelers should be able to get from security to their gate without getting lost, with help from subtle design cues nudging them in the right direction. In design lingo, this process is called wayfinding. “I tell my staff that signage is an admission of failure,” says Stanis Smith, executive vice president and leader of the airports sector at consulting firm Stantec. “Obviously one needs signs, but the best thing for designers to do is look for ways you can assist with wayfinding that are subtle.”

For example, in many new airports, passengers can see through to the tarmac immediately after they leave security, or sooner. “More important than anything is a view directly out to airside and you see the tails of all the aircraft,” says Robert Chicas, Director of Aviation and Transportation at HOK, the architectural firm that helped redesign the Indianapolis International Airport. “Does it matter whether it’s your aircraft? Probably not. It gives you an orientation so you know generally that’s the direction you need to head in.”

2. The signs send subliminal messages.

“Very, very little in the style of an airport sign is arbitrary,” writes David Zweig, author of Invisibles: The Power of Anonymous Work in an Age of Relentless Self-Promotion. Take the font, for example. In 75% of all airports, you’ll find one of three typefaces: Helvetica, Frutiger, and Clearview. All three are sans serif because it’s easier to read at a distance. The unofficial rule for size, according to the Transportation Research Board’s guide to wayfinding, is that every inch of letter height adds 40 feet of viewing distance (so a “3 inch tall letter would be legible from 120 feet”). Sometimes different terminals will have their own distinct signature sign design—like rounded edges or a specific color. “If you are ever in an airport or campus or hospital or other complex environment and suddenly something feels off, you sense you are going the wrong way, there’s a good chance it’s not just magic or some brilliant internal directional sense,” Zweig writes, “but rather you may be responding to a subconscious cue like the change of shape from one sign system to another.”

3. They lighten the mood.

Newer airports incorporate as many windows as possible, even in stores. “There’s a trend that the shops face the tarmac. Passengers tend to walk more into shops that have direct access to the sunlight,” says Julian Lukaszewicz, lecturer in aviation management at Buckinghamshire New University. “If they’re closed off with artificial light passengers feel they are too dark and avoid them.”

4. They herd you with art.

That big sculpture in your terminal isn’t just there to look pretty. It’s another tool to help travelers navigate. “We like to use things like artwork as kind of placemakers that create points of reference through an airport terminal,” says Smith. “For example, in Vancouver International Airport we have a spectacular 16-foot high sculpture at the center of the pre-security retail area. People say, ‘Meet you at the sculpture.’ It acts as a point of orientation.”

Art also serves to create a sense of place, transforming the airport from a sterile people-mover to a unique atmosphere where people want to spend time (and money!). In one survey, 56 percent of participants said “a more culturally sensitive and authentic experience tied to the location” is something they’d like to see more in airports by 2025.

5. They use carpeting.

In many airports, the long walk from check-in to gate is paved in linoleum (or some other hard surface). But you’ll notice that the gate waiting area is carpeted. This is an attempt to make holding areas more relaxing by giving them a soft, cozy feeling, like you might find in your own living room. Happy, relaxed travelers spend 7 percent more money on average on retail and 10 percent more on Duty Free items. And it doesn’t stop with a layer of carpeting. Yoga rooms, spas, and even airport therapy dogs are becoming more common as airports look for new ways to relax travelers and encourage spending.

6. The “golden hour” is key for profit.

In airport manager lingo, the time between when a passenger clears security and boards their plane is called “dwell time.” This is when, as the Telegraph puts it, “passengers are at a loose end and most likely to spend.” Especially crucial is the “golden hour,” the first 60 minutes spent beyond security, when passengers are “in a self-indulgent mood.” Display boards listing flight information are there in part to keep you updated on your flight, but also to reassure you that you still have plenty of time to wander and shop. Similarly, some airports are installing “time to gate” signs that display how far you are from your destination. And because 40 percent of us would prefer to avoid human interaction when we shop, self-service kiosks are becoming more common in airport terminals. According to the Airports Council International, 50 percent of American airports now have robo-retailers.

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Photo by Cate Gillon/Getty Images.

7. They’re increasing dwell time.

The “golden hour” is great, but two golden hours are even better. “One hour more at an airport is around $7 more spent per passenger,” says Lukaszewicz.Anything that’s automated, from check-in to bag drop, is meant to speed things up. And it works. Research suggests automated check-in kiosks are 25 percent faster than humans. “A lot of airports, especially in Japan and New Zealand, are now doing this, where you don’t actually get any assistance from any staff member from check-in,” says Lukaszewicz. “You print your own baggage tag. You put it on the bag on the belt. You go through auto-security and immigration where there is no one. At the boarding gate you just touch your barcode and they open a gate and you walk onto the plane without any interaction.” One study found that for every 10 minutes a passenger spends in the security line, they spend 30 percent less money on retail items. Last year, the TSA announced it would give $15,000 to the person who comes up with the best idea for speeding up security.

8. Shops are strategically placed.

Most airport spending is done on impulse (no one really needs a giant pack of Toblerone), so the key is getting the goods out where they can be seen by as many people as possible. Shops are located where airport footfall is highest. Some airports force passengers to wander through Duty Free to get to the gates. And the more twists and turns, the better. According to one report from consulting company Intervistas, Duty-Free shops with “serpentine walk-through” designs have 60 percent more sales “because 100% of customers are exposed.”

Shops and restaurants are often clustered to evoke a Main Street feel, because people tend to shop in bustling environments. “It’s no different than if you’re in a town in Europe or in Manhattan,” Smith says. “Retail succeeds when it has a critical mass.”

9. They go local.

Airport shops are packed with souvenirs and trinkets that reflect the local culture because that’s what travelers want to buy. For example, more than 20 years after its release, “Sleepless in Seattle” shirts are still a top-selling item at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. In the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, shoppers go wild for potted cactus plants. “Local brands, local services, reinforce this idea of place, and that you are in a special place on your way to the rest of the world,” says Ripley Rasmus, senior design principal at HOK.

10. Walkways curve to the left.

The majority of humans are right-handed, and according to Intervistas, this influences airport design. “More sales are generated if a walkway curves from right to left with more merchandise and space on the right side because passengers are looking right while (perhaps unconsciously) walking left,” says one report.

11. A single queue puts us at ease.

While the line for check-in and security may seem absurdly long, a single queue actually lowers stress levels by increasing the perceived sense of fairness, according to Lukaszewicz. No one worries the other line is going faster than theirs, because there is no other line. “If you implement a one-queue system for check-in, or for security, so one long line and then you go just to the next available counter, passengers perceive it as more fair because each person is standing in the same line,” he says. “It’s strange but true because you always think the queue next to you moves quicker.”

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Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

12. The security officers get conversational.

Since 2007, the TSA has been pouring $200 million a year into agents trained to spot suspicious behavior in passengers. The program, called Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques (SPOT), was developed by a psychology professor at the University of California Medical School in San Francisco named Paul Ekman. It involves a list of 94 signs of anxiety and fear, like lack of eye contact or sweating. But one report found that SPOT is ineffective because “the human ability to accurately identify deceptive behavior based on behavioral indicators is the same as or slightly better than chance.”

Another method of screening passengers is simply to talk to them. A 2014 study found that asking open-ended questions—known as the Controlled Cognitive Engagement method (CCE)—is 20 times more effective than trying to monitor based on behavior. For example, an agent might ask a passenger where they’re traveling before prodding them with a random question like where they went to college and what they majored in, then watch for signs of panic. “If you’re a regular passenger, you’re just chatting about the thing you know the best—yourself,” says researcher Thomas Ormerod, PhD, head of the School of Psychology at the University of Sussex in England. “It shouldn’t feel like an interrogation.” In the study, officers using conversation-based screening caught 66 percent of deceptive passengers, compared to just 3 percent who used behavior-based screening.

Jessica Hullinger is a freelance journalist living in Brooklyn.