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24 Enriching Activities 50-Somethings Should Do In Their Free Time

24 Enriching Activities 50-Somethings Should Do In Their Free Time

Life starts at 40, as the famous saying goes. But what many people are unaware of is that the fun stuff starts at 50. In your earlier years, you were preoccupied with things like trying to figure out your career, buying a house, and finding “the one”. But now that you’re married, have bought a home, secured your career (and hopefully your retirement), and gained wisdom from years of experience, everything’s looking a lot brighter for you right now.

The time has come to reap the fruits of years of hardships and struggles. By this time, you would ideally have lots of free time to be spent with friends, family, and yourself. Here are 24 enriching activities every 50-something should do in the free time.

Educate yourself

1. Take a language course

Aside from the fun of it, learning a new language is always great since you never know when you might encounter the need for such. This is especially great for avid travelers since it is definitely an advantage be able to converse with the locals.

It is quite common for tourists to get lost while on the road, and asking directions from locals is always a great solution.  The problem is, some of them might not be proficient in English (much less your native tongue). Knowing the local language can definitely help you with getting directions towards your destination. To learn another language at your own pace, you can look for podcasts that can be synced to your mobile device so you can listen to audio tutorials wherever you go.

 2. Learn arts and crafts

Arts and crafts aren’t just for children; it’s basically for everyone.  Aside from adding another talent on your skill set, working on a craft like building models, sketching, origami, pottery, or painting creates a state of mind that greatly improves focus. This then arouses feelings of great accomplishment with each masterpiece created. If you don’t know where to start, there are tons of free tutorials on the Internet that you can learn from.

 3. Learn restoration

You probably have an old bike, an old car, or an old juke box that hold so much memories, which unfortunately couldn’t stand the test of time. You can save a lot in carpentry/mechanic fees if you learn how to fix things yourself.  You can start with fixing simple items like chairs, tables, and shelves to hone your skills.

4. Study photography

If the idea of creating images on canvases with your hands isn’t too appealing, perhaps using a camera can do the trick. It may be an expensive hobby, and it may take time to get really good at it, but it’s always worth trying. If you’re new to this, make sure to read product reviews online and ask advice from other photography enthusiasts before buying your own camera. This is to make sure that you won’t waste your money on a camera that doesn’t fit you.

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5. Learn to play a musical instrument

Learning to play a musical instrument brings a wide array of perks. It teaches you discipline, eases stress, builds confidence, and lets you discover history and culture. All of us have a certain piece of instrument that we’ve always wanted to play. Besides taking classes, you can learn on your own by reading books and watching instructional videos online.

6. Learn to cook

Learning how to cook for yourself makes you healthier at little cost since you’ll be buying and cooking the ingredients yourself. You can even cook yourself your favorite dish whenever you want. Just learn how to cook by on YouTube, from DVDs or traditional cookbooks.

7. Study the humanities

Studying the humanities will generally help you expand your horizons. Fields like philosophy, history, and religion tackle life from many different angles. If you love intellectual discussions, this one’s for you. The Internet and your local library are bound to have an enormous repository of resources on these subjects.

8. Watch documentaries

If you like to learn but don’t really have the patience to read, watch documentaries videos. Videos make things more alive and more enjoyable to pay attention to,and so are  are easier to absorb compared to reading. You can download these materials online, or catch them on certain television channels like History, Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, and National Geographic Channel.

Go outdoors

9. Fishing

There’s something truly relaxing when drinking beer on a boat in the middle of a calm lake while waiting for the fish to take the bait. You don’t really have to worry about boat rentals since they aren’t that expensive. Fishing is best done with your pals or kids; it is an exciting activity even if you don’t get to have the big ones bite. Look up your directory or find the best fishing places near your home.

10. Make your own garden

Only a few activities can do what gardening does. It gives you this intense feeling of joy once the seeds that you sow become sprouts. This gets better when they start flowering or making fruits or vegetables. You also get some much needed time with nature because you’d be spending time landscaping, watering, and putting fences around your garden.

To start with, decide what you should plant on your garden based on the weather in your area and your capabilities to look after one. Then, you need seeds, fertilizer, a shovel, a hand trowel, and a bucket, then you’re good to go. Make sure you do this on an area spacious enough for the plants to grow. Read up on how to start, attend conferences, or simply ask other people who have done this before for tips and instructions.

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11. Take care of chickens

Having chickens around is nice since these guys are simply harmless and are fairly good companions. Unlike other farm animals like cows, pigs, goats, and horses, chickens are a lot easier to take care of. Their small size means you won’t need to invest in large space and food compared to four-legged livestock. Best of all, their fecal matter doesn’t stink as much as cows’ and pigs’.

Allot a small area in your background for their cages. If you want them running around, make sure your yard has fences to keep them away from cats and dogs and wandering off to your neighbors.

12. Watch local sports games

Sports are always exciting. Take a break from watching the professional league on TV to see the local action regardless if you have a kid playing or not. Aside from witnessing young talents grow, attending local games is a great place for you to meet like-mined folks of the same age.

Start by picking a sport that you’re most interested in, then looking up for a local team or simply support your alma mater’s team. Crowds cheering for college and high school teams are always passionate groups, join the wild crowds to experience the excitment.

Exercise

13. Jog

Jogging has always been one of the most popular ways to stay fit. It typically results in weight loss, better sleeping habits, and improved appetite. Do this around the park or your neighborhood at your convenience.

14. Ride a bike

Riding a bike is the same as jogging to some extent, in terms of health benefits. The big difference here is that you can reach farther places, and in some cases, it can be more fun since you’re running on wheels. Taking out your bike for a ride on a sunny afternoon around the neighborhood gives you a good opportunity to break a sweat and sometimes catch up with your buddies next door.

15. Take a swimming class

Moving in the water would require a certain level of physical strength and technique, thereby improving cardiovascular and muscular health. It also tones the muscles, particularly the ones at the back, arms, and legs, which ultimately makes people look lean. Moreover, taking a dip in cold blue waters on a hot summer afternoon is truly refreshing, You can start out at the public pool or the beach. If you have money to spare, opt for a premium membership at some resort.

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16. Go hiking

One of the best ways to get fit and get close to the nature is by hiking out to the great outdoors. This would give you that much-needed break from the urban setting. You would see and experience new things, like the adrenaline once you’re standing on a mountain peak, overlooking a majestic landscape.  Consider exploring a cave, a hill, an uncharted island, or a native forest for some adventure.

Have fun at home

17. Host card games

Playing cards is one of the best pastimes around. With just a single deck of 52 cards, you can come up with hundreds of games. Aside from being fun, these games will help keep everyone’s minds alert. Invite friends or family to the house and have a few rounds on the patio. The feeling is just thrilling since you’re never really sure if you would win or lose.

18. Play bingo online

If everyone in the house is away, or your buddies aren’t available, or you’re simply feeling lazy about going out, you can consider playing bingo online. This saves you the hassle of dressing up and traveling to the bingo hall.

While it is still best played with friends and family, playing it online doesn’t make it less of a social game. There are numerous sites that allow you to talk and play with other people.

19. Track your family tree

There’s that part of us which longs for knowing about our roots. Tracking your family’s ancestry will definitely take a lot of time and research. Regardless of how far back you can trace, it is always a good gift to pass it on to your young. Knowing about the roots and family’s history will definitely give them pride in their family name.

You may need to travel a bit to get your research done, but you can start by looking through your old photo albums.  Just find out if there’re any notes or labels that can give you the information you need. You can even ask your older relatives or family friends about your family’s history.

20. Play board games

Board games, like Monopoly, are typically good for the whole family because of the friendly competition. If you’re up for quality time with one of your buddies, opt for Chess or Chinese Checkers. One-on-one strategy games like these breed healthy competition and improve mental dexterity.

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21. Yoga

Not only does yoga improve your physical health, but also benefits your mental and spiritual health. It improves a person’s quality of life by bringing mental clarity and building harmony with the surroundings through meditation. The numerous breathing techniques and flexibility exercises are good for body detox. Yoga can be tough to learn. Consider taking a beginners class, since instructions from a trainer would most likely be better than online resources.

Go beyond the usual

22. Learn how to do magic

Learning a magic trick or two is great for entertaining people, especially kids. You can make people laugh during a party or a gathering; it also gives you the excuse to have the children sit around you and watch. You can buy items for magic tricks in the mall.

23. Learn a martial art

It’s never too late to be a karate master. Aside from being good for self-defense, learning martial arts also benefits the body, mind, and soul. The high flying moves and the rigorous training all stem from different philosophical teachings and are merely the metaphor for them. Look for a good instructor around town and enroll for a class.

24. Do voluntary work

If you feel like embarking on a mission to give back and make a positive change in society, then doing voluntary work is the way to go. Choose a local NGO that takes part or initiate activities that include making a positive change towards something you care about. This could involve saving the environment, advocating animal welfare, or feeding and educating the less fortunate. Choose one that you can devote your time to. Participating in altruistic activities is a win-win situation: it benefits you as it always feels good to contribute to a cause bigger than yourself, while the needs of those at the receiving end of your help will be met.

As you free yourself from the anxieties of forging a career, finding a spouse, buying a home and several of the what-ifs of your life, you can now focus on pursuing other talents you’re capable of, as well as nurturing your relationship with yourself and others. You’ll be a lot happier as you get closer to your full potential as a human being.

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

Feeling tired all the time?

Have you ever caught yourself nodding off when you’re watching TV, listening to someone drone on during a meeting or even driving a car?

I know I have, especially when I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive.

Feeling tired all the time may be more widespread than you think. In fact, two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week.[1]

If you’re tired of feeling tired, then I’ve got some great news for you. New research is helping us gain critical insights into the underlying causes of feeling tired all the time.

In this article, we’ll discuss the latest reasons why you’re feeling tired all the time and practical steps you can take to finally get to the bottom of your fatigue and feel rested.

What Happens When You’re Too Tired

If you sleep just two hours less than the normal eight hours, you could be as impaired as someone who has consumed up to three beers.[2] And you’ve probably experienced the impact yourself.

Here are some common examples of what happens when you’re feeling tired:[3]

  • You may have trouble focusing because memory and learning functions may be impaired within your brain.
  • You may experience mood swings and an inability to differentiate between what’s important and what’s not because your brain’s neurotransmitters are misfiring.
  • You may get dark circles under your eyes and/or your skin make look dull and lackluster in the short term and over time your skin may get wrinkles and show signs of aging because your body didn’t have time to remove toxins during sleep.
  • You may find it more difficult to exercise or to perform any type of athletic activity.
  • Your immune system may weaken causing you to pick up infections more easily.
  • You may overeat because not getting enough sleep activates the body’s endocannabinoids even when you’re not hungry.
  • Your metabolism slows down so what you eat is more likely to be stored as belly fat.

Are you saying that feeling tired can make me overweight?

Unfortunately, yes!

Feeling tired all the time can cause you to put on the pounds especially around your waist. But it is a classic chicken and egg situation, too.

Heavier people are more likely to feel fatigued during the day than lighter ones. And that’s even true for overweight people who don’t have sleep apnea (source: National Institutes of Health).

Speaking of sleep apnea, you may be wondering if that or something else is causing you to feel tired all the time.

Why Are you Feeling Tired All the Time?

Leading experts are starting to recognize that there are three primary reasons people feel tired on a regular basis: sleep deprivation, fatigue and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

Here’s a quick overview of each root cause of feeling tired all of the time:

  1. Tiredness occurs from sleep deprivation when you don’t get high-quality sleep consistently. It typically can be solved by changing your routine and getting enough deep restorative sleep.
  2. Fatigue occurs from prolonged sleeplessness which could be triggered by numerous issues such as mental health issues, long-term illness, fibromyalgia, obesity, sleep apnea or stress. It typically can be improved by changing your lifestyle and using sleep aids or treatments, if recommended by your physician.
  3. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a medical condition also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis that occurs from persistent exhaustion that doesn’t go away with sleep.

The exact cause of CFS is not known, but it may be due to problems with the immune system, a bacterial infection, a hormone imbalance or emotional trauma.

It typically involves working with a doctor to rule out other illnesses before diagnosing and treating CFS.[4]

Always consult a physician to get a personal diagnosis about why you are feeling tired, especially if it is a severe condition.

Feeling Tired vs Being Fatigued

If lack of quality sleep doesn’t seem to be the root cause for you, then it’s time to explore fatigue as the reason you are frequently feeling tired.

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Until recently, tiredness and fatigue were thought to be interchangeable. Leading experts now realize that tiredness and fatigue are different.

Tiredness is primarily about lack of sleep.

But fatigue is a perceived feeling of being tired that is much more likely to occur in people who have depression, anxiety or emotional stress and/or are overweight and physically inactive (source: Science Direct).

Symptoms of fatigue include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Low stamina
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Low motivation

These symptoms may sound similar to those of tiredness but they usually last longer and are more intense.

Unfortunately, there is no definitive reason why fatigue occurs because it can be a symptom of an emotional or physical illness. But there are still a number of steps you can take to reduce difficult symptoms by making a few simple lifestyle changes.

How Much Sleep Is Enough?

The number one reason you may feel tired is because of sleep deprivation which means you are not getting enough high-quality sleep.

Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep per night. If you’re sleep deprived, the amount of sleep you need increases.

So, quantity and quality do matter when it comes to sleep.

The key to quality sleep is being able to get long, uninterrupted sleep cycles throughout the night. It typically takes 90 minutes for you to reach a state of deep REM sleep where your body’s healing crew goes to work.

Ideally, you want to get at least 3 to 4 deep REM sleep cycles in per night. That’s why it’s so important to stay asleep for 7 or more hours.

Research also shows that people who think they can get by on less sleep don’t perform as well as people who get at least seven hours of sleep a night[5] So, you should definitely plan on getting seven hours of deep restorative sleep every night.

If you are not getting 7 hours of high-quality sleep regularly, then sleep deprivation is most likely reason you feel tired all the time.

And that is good news because sleep deprivation is much simpler and easier to address than the other root causes.

It’s also a good idea to rule out sleep deprivation as the reason why you are tired before moving on to the other possibilities such as fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which may require a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

4 Simple Changes to Reduce Fatigue

Personally, I’m a big believer in upgrading your lifestyle to uplift your life. I overcame chronic stress and exhaustion by making these four changes to my lifestyle:

  1. Eating healthy, home-cooked meals versus microwaving processed foods or eating out
  2. Exercising regularly
  3. Using stressbusters
  4. Creating a bedtime routine to sleep better

So, I know it is possible to change your lifestyle even when you’re working crazy hours and have lots of family responsibilities.

After I made the 4 simple changes in my lifestyle, I no longer felt exhausted all of the time.

In addition, I lost two inches off my waist and looked and felt better than ever.

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I was so excited that I wanted to help others replace stress and exhaustion with rest and well-being, too. That’s why I became a Certified Holistic Wellness Coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.

Interestingly enough, I discovered that Dr. Sears recommends a somewhat similar L.E.A.N. lifestyle:

  • L is for Lifestyle and means living healthy including getting enough sleep.
  • E is for Exercise and means getting at least 20 minutes of exercise a day ideally for six days a week.
  • A is for Attitude and means thinking positive and reducing stress whenever possible.
  • N is for Nutrition and means emphasizing a right-fat diet, not a low-fat diet.

The L.E.A.N. lifestyle is a scientifically-proven way to reduce fatigue, get to the optimal weight and to achieve overall wellness.[6]

And yes, there does seem to be an important correlation between being lean and feeling rested.

But overall based on my personal experience and Dr. Sear’s scientific proof, the key to not feeling tired all of the time does seem to be 4 simple changes to your lifestyle.

L — Living Healthy

Getting enough high-quality sleep every day is the surefire way to help you feel less fatigued, more rested and better overall.

So, whether you’re sleep deprived or potentially suffering from fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, you probably want to find a way to sleep better.

In fact, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body isn’t getting the time it needs to repair itself; meaning that if you are suffering from an illness, it’s far more likely to linger.

As unlikely as it sounds, though, fatigue can sometimes make it difficult to sleep. That’s why I’d recommend taking a look at your bedtime routine before you go to bed and optimize it based on sleep best practices.

Here are 3 quick and easy tips for creating a pro-sleep bedtime routine:

1. Unplug

Many of us try to unwind by watching TV or doing something on an iPhone or tablet. But tech can affect your melatonin production due to the blue light that they emit, fooling your body into thinking it’s still daytime.

So turn off all tech one hour before bed and create a tech-free zone in your bedroom.

2. Unwind

Do something to relax.

Use the time before bed to do something you find relaxing such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, meditating or taking an Epsom salt bath.

3. Get Comfortable

Ensure your bed is comfortable and your room is set up for sleep.

Make sure you room is cool. 60-68 degrees is the ideal temperature for most people to sleep.

Also, it’s ideal if your bedroom is dark and there is no noise.

Finally, make sure everything is handled (e.g., laying out tomorrow’s clothes) before you get into your nice, comfy bed.

If your mind is still active, write a to-do list to help you fall asleep faster.[7]

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Above all, be gentle with yourself and count your blessings, some sheep or whatever helps.

This article also offers practical tips to build a bedtime routine: How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier

E — Exercise

Many people know that exercise is good for them, but just can’t figure out how to fit it into their busy schedules.

That’s what happened in my case.

But when my chronic stress and exhaustion turned into systemic inflammation (which can lead to major diseases like Alzheimer’s), I realized it was time to change my lifestyle.

As part of my lifestyle upgrade, I knew I needed to move more.

My friends who exercise all gave me the same advice: find an exercise you like to do and find a specific time in your schedule when you can consistently do it.

That made sense to me.

So, I decided to swim.

I used to love to swim when I was young, but I hadn’t done it for years. The best time for me to do it was immediately after work, since I could easily get an open swim lane at my local fitness club then.

Also, swimming became a nice reason for me to leave work on time. And I got to enjoy a nice workout before eating dinner.

Swimming is a good way to get your cardio or endurance training. But, walking, running and dancing are nice alternatives.

So find an exercise you love and stick to it. Ideally, get a combination of endurance training, strength training and flexibility training in during your daily 20-minute workout.

If you haven’t exercised in a while and have a lot of stress in your life, you may want to give yoga a try because you will increase your flexibility and lower your stress.

A — Attitude

Stress may be a major reason why you aren’t feeling well all of the time. At least that was the case with me.

When I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive, I felt chronically stressed and exhausted. But there was one thing that always worked to help me feel calmer and less fatigued.

Do you want to know what that master stress-busting technique was?

Breathing.

But not just any old breathing. It was a special form of deep Yogic breathing called the “Long-Exhale Breathing” or “4-7-8 breathing” or “Pranayama” in Sanskrit).

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Here’s how you do “Long-Exhale Breathing”:

  1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight and your hand on your tummy (so you know you are breathing deeply from your diaphragm and not shallowly from your chest)
  2. Breathe in deeply and slowly from your diaphragm with your mouth closed while you count to 4 (ideally until your stomach feels full of air)
  3. Hold your breath while you count to 7 mentally and enjoy the stillness
  4. Breathe out through your mouth with a “ha” sound while you count to 8 (or until your stomach has no more air in it)
  5. Pause after you finish your exhale while you notice the sense of wholeness and relaxation from completing one conscious, deep, long exhale breath
  6. Repeat 3 times ensuring your exhale is longer than your inhale so you relax your nervous system

This type of “long-exhale breathing” is scientifically proven to reduce stress.

When your exhale is twice as long as your inhale, it soothes your parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the relaxation response.[8]

Plus, this is a great technique for helping you get to sleep, too.

N — Nutrition

Diet is vital for beating fatigue – after all, food is your main source of energy.

If your diet is poor, then it implies you’re not getting the nutrients you need to sustain healthy energy levels.

Eating a diet for fatigue doesn’t need to be complicated, time-consuming though.

For most people, it’s just a case of swapping a few unhealthy foods for a few healthier ones, like switching from low-fiber, processed foods to whole, high-fiber foods.

Unless your current diet is solely made up of fast food and ready meals, adjusting to a fatigue-fighting diet shouldn’t be too much of a shock to the system.

Here’re 9 simple diet swaps you can make today:

  1. Replace your morning coffee with Matcha green tea and drink only herbal tea within six hours of bedtime.
  2. Add a healthy fat or protein to your any carb you eat, especially if you eat before bed. Please note that carb-only snacks lead to blood-sugar crashes that can make you eat more and they can keep you from sleeping.
  3. Fill up with fiber especially green leafy vegetables. Strive to get at least 25g per day with at least 5 servings (a serving is the size of your fist) of green vegetables.
  4. Replace refined, processed, low-fiber pastas and grains with zucchini noodles and whole grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, oats, amaranth, millet, teff, brown rice and corn.
  5. Swap natural sweeteners for refined sugars and try to ensure you don’t get more than 25g of sugar a day if you are a woman and 30g of sugar a day if you are a man.
  6. Replace ice cream with low-sugar alternatives such as So Delicious Dairy-Free Vanilla Bean Coconut Ice Cream.
  7. Swap omega-6, partially-hydrogenated oils such as corn, palm, sunflower, safflower, cotton, canola and soybean oil for omega-3 oils such as flax, olive and nut oils.
  8. Replace high-sugar yoghurts with low-sugar, dairy-free yoghurts such as Kite Hill Plain Yoghurt with 1g sugar or Lifeway Farmer Cheese with 0g sugar.
  9. Swap your sugar-laden soda for sparkling water with a splash of low-sugar juice

Also, ensure your diet is giving you enough of the daily essential vitamins and minerals. Most of us don’t get enough Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12, Calcium, Iron and Magnesium. If you are low on any of the above vitamins and minerals, you may experience fatigue and low energy.

That’s why it’s always worth having your doctor check your levels. If you find any of them are low, then try to eat foods rich in them.

Alternatively, you might consider a high-quality multi-vitamin or specific supplement.

The Bottom Line

If you are tired of feeling tired, then there is tremendous hope.

If you are tired because you are not getting enough high-quality sleep, then the best remedy is a bedtime routine based on sleep best practices.

If you are tired because you have stress and fatigue, then the best remedy are four simple lifestyle changes including:

  • Enough High-Quality Sleep with Bedtime Routine
  • Regular Exercise You Love
  • Stress Reduction with Long-Exhale Breathing
  • Fatigue-Reducing Diet

Overall, adopting a healthier lifestyle Is the ideal remedy for feeling more rested and energized.

More Tips to Help You Rest Better

Featured photo credit: Cris Saur via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] YouGov: Two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week
[2] National Safety Council: Is Your Company Confronting Workplace Fatigue?
[3] The New York Times: Why Are We So Freaking Tired?
[4] Mayo Clinic: Chronic fatigue syndrome
[5] Mayo Clinic: Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?
[6] Ask Dr. Sears: The L.E.A.N. Lifestyle
[7] American Psychological Association: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
[8] Yoga International: Learning to Exhale: 2-to-1 Breathing

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