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Product Review & Information

8 Best Ellipticals For Under $500

Are you looking for a high-quality elliptical trainer on a budget? We have reviewed and compared the top branded ellipticals under $500.

by PITeam

Product Review & Information

8 Best Ellipticals For Under $500

Are you looking for a high-quality elliptical trainer on a budget? We have reviewed and compared the top branded ellipticals under $500.

by PITeam

by PITeam

Finding the motivation to actually get up and go to the gym is the hardest part of any fitness regimen. Once you arrive, your favorite piece of cardio equipment might not even be available. Luckily, there’s a solution that doesn’t involve getting into the car, driving to the gym, and hoping that your go-to machine is free to use.

The solution is to shop around for an elliptical trainer, one of the most effective low-impact cardio machines to enhance physical fitness. Ellipticals are similar to stationary spin bikes in the sense that they have minimal impact on the body. Instead of sitting like you would while using a bike, you’ll be standing while undergoing a full-body cardio workout on an elliptical.

Similar to a treadmill, using an elliptical is a great way to burn calories in a short amount of time. And the best part of all? It’s possible to find a high-quality, in-home elliptical for less than $500. Here you can learn about the benefits of using an elliptical trainer and things to consider when shopping to find the best elliptical under 500 dollars for your needs. 

Benefits of Elliptical Workouts

The health benefits of cardio are too many to count. According to Business Insider, “Exercises that get your heart pumping and sweat flowing — known as aerobic exercise, or "cardio"— have significant and beneficial effects on the brain and body.” The most common form of cardio is running, either on a treadmill or on pavement. Running or jogging is an amazing form of exercise, but it’s not for everyone.

Running can be hard on the knees, joints, and muscles. Opting for an elliptical instead is a great way to get the cardio you need, without the impact. While using an elliptical, your feet never actually leave step pedals, making this a “no impact” form of cardio. Avoiding high impact exercise isn’t the only reason to start shopping for a top elliptical under 500 bucks.

  • Ellipticals offer a dual-action workout for both the lower and upper bodies.
  • An elliptical machine is considered to be low-maintenance and is very unlikely to require servicing or repair.
  • Ellipticals burn more calories in less time, and a regular elliptical user tends to maintain a healthy weight.
  • The best elliptical trainers for home use under 500 dollars come with a variety of exercise programs, including interval training and hill-climbing workouts.

Buyers Guide to High-Quality Elliptical Trainers

Type

Before you can determine what is the best elliptical machine under 500 dollars, there are a lot of considerations to be made. The first consideration is the type of elliptical that is right for you. First, decide if you would benefit from a standing or recumbent elliptical. The more traditional of the two is a standing machine, where your body will remain in an upright position while you exercise. A recumbent elliptical is similar to a recumbent bike - the user remains seated while the machine is in use.

Next, decide if a full-size or compact elliptical is better suited to your home workout space. Anyone limited on space should shop around for the best compact elliptical under $500. Compact ellipticals have folding capabilities and are the ultimate choice if saving space is a main priority.

Some of the best elliptical machines are hybrid trainers, meaning they offer the option to either sit or stand. In other words, a 2-in-1 hybrid machine serves as both an elliptical and a bike. And then there is an under-desk elliptical, also called the "mini elliptical." An under-desk machine is placed under a desk or table and provides a workout for the bottom half of the body, even while getting work done at the office. 

Size

Before purchasing the best elliptical under $500, it's crucial to determine where to machine will be going and how much space is available. Many home-elliptical users keep the machine in the basement out of the everyday living space.

A common mistake is to take into account the width and length of the machine and forget about the height. Ellipticals can be tall machines, so ensure that you have plenty of ceiling height and can comfortably stand on the trainer.

According to the Consumer Reports Elliptical Buying Guide, “Ellipticals are about 6 feet long by 2.5 feet wide but can range in length from 50 to 84 inches." Consumer Reports also says that it is important to remember that the pedals may extend beyond the dimensions of the machine while it is operating. Take this into account when measuring the intended space for the elliptical.

User Weight Limitations

One of the main reasons to invest in the best elliptical machine under 500 dollars is to lose unwanted belly fat. It's easy to shed pounds with an elliptical, especially for women. But if you have lots of pounds to shed, it’s important to factor in the user weight limitations of the elliptical trainer you’re considering. The weight limit for elliptical users falls between 250 and 400 pounds. Compact folding machines will have lower weight limitations than full-size trainers. 

Performance

Every elliptical machine works in generally the same way, but the performance level can vary. With an extremely basic model, the user won’t have much control over features like resistance, stride length, or incline. The best elliptical machines will give the user complete control over these performance features and more.

A top-rated machine allows you to adjust the resistance from easy to challenging. The resistance is typically measured by numbers ranging from 1-10 or 1-20. Having the ability to change the incline is also important; there are several benefits to increasing the incline, the first being a more challenging workout.

Stride length is another important performance feature since every person is different in terms of height. Taller individuals will benefit from a longer stride setting, while shorter ones are better off with a shorter stride length. Ellipticals typically range from 12 to 21 inches in stride length, most often offering a stride of 15 or 16 inches.

Durability

Don't get us wrong, finding the best elliptical under $500 is a great deal, as long as the machine proves to be durable and lasts for at least several years ($500 is still a lot of money for some buyers). If you read reviews and discover that a particular elliptical trainer is prone to breaking, move on to the next best option.

Safety

Just because you’re trying to stick to a budget when investing in a best rated elliptical under 500 dollars doesn’t mean you should skimp on safety. Safety has to do with several things, including materials used, construction of the machine, and the specific manufacturer.

Researching safety is an important step; several elliptical machines have been recalled over the years due to safety concerns, like the Matrix Fitness Elliptical. The majority of elliptical machines on the market are 100% safe as long as you properly follow the assembly and usage instructions.

Noise Levels

Finding an elliptical trainer that does not make a peep will be difficult, but it's fairly simple to find one that is relatively quiet. A noisy machine can cause irritation and annoyance for the user, which is the last thing you want when trying to push through a difficult cardio workout. You might not find a machine that is entirely noiseless but still search for one with a low noise level for a distraction free workout. 

Extra Features

More expensive machines come equipped with all sorts of special features, but even the best elliptical trainer under 500 dollars will have some additional features. Look for a machine that includes a heart rate monitor, complete console display, and several workout programs to choose from. Some of the top-rated trainers also offer fitness tracking features for each individual user.

Warranty

It’s normal for elliptical machines to come with warranty coverage. It’s also normal for that coverage to vary depending on the specific part of the machine. For example, the coverage for the structural frame is typically the longest, sometimes as long as 10 years.

Other parts like handlebars and screen consoles will be covered for a shorter duration of time, if at all. There will also be a separate labor warranty - typically 90 days - meaning that if a part needs repairing or replacing within that time, the cost of labor is free of charge.


8 Best Ellipticals Under $500 Reviewed

1. Schwinn 411

Best Compact Elliptical Under $500

Dimensions (L x W x H)

53.8" x 24" x 62.5"

Elliptical Stride Length

18”

No. of Resistance Levels

16

Weight Capacity (Max User Weight – lbs)

300 lbs

No. Of Workout Programs

13

Warranty

Frame: 10 years
Other parts: 2 years
Digital electronics: 1 year

The best compact elliptical under $500 dollars is the Schwinn 411 Compact. Although it is small, this elliptical machine is by no means small in terms of performance. The design is certainly compact, but you'll still get the standard 18" stride of the full-size traditional elliptical. One downfall is that the stride length cannot be adjusted, but 18" works just fine for most individuals.

The Schwinn 411 also offers 16 separate levels of resistance, ranging from a light workout to a challenging burn. There are two sets of handlebars, one that is stationary and one that is meant for upper body movement. Both come equipped with heart rate sensors to monitor heartbeat throughout the workout. The streamlined screen console displays the user's time, speed, distance, heart rate, and calories burned. You can also use the screen to choose between 13 unique cardio programs.

One unique feature that comes along with the Schwinn 411 is the mixed reality training that is operated via the screen console. This cool feature allows users to sync with the mixed-reality app RunSocial. The app provides races in 19 locations with 27 routes. You can use it with your friends and track your daily progress on time and distance. If a compact size is what you want without skimping on your fitness regimen, the Schwinn 411 is a great choice.

Pros

  • Easy to assemble
  • Adjustable 16-level resistance
  • Easy-to-use streamlined screen console display
  • Access to the RunSocial app for mixed reality cardio

Cons

  • Even the lowest setting resistance is challenging for some

2. Sunny Fitness (SF-E3804)

Best Home Elliptical Under $500

Dimensions (L x W x H)

54” x 24” x 63”

Elliptical Stride Length

13.5”

No. of Resistance Levels

8

Weight Capacity (Max User Weight – lbs)

297 lbs

No. Of Workout Programs

0

Warranty

Frame: 3 years
Other parts: 90 days

In terms of value for the price, the best home elliptical under $500 is the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E3804. This elliptical trainer was built for a high-intensity cardio workout with dual action forward and backward pedaling. Similar to the last model, this one comes with two sets of handlebars, one stationary and one that moves along with the pedals. It provides 8 levels of resistance using a magnetic tension system.

The digital monitor located between the stationary handlebars tells you all the necessary information relating to the workout. It can even calculate your body fat percentage, as well as give an accurate heart rate reading within 60 seconds or less. It also gives you a digital reading of your current and average speed, time passed and time remaining, calories burned, and distance traveled.

There is, however, one flaw regarding the stride length; it only offers a 13.5-inch stride. Compared to other ellipticals offering 16 to 21-inch stride lengths, this is extremely short. One reviewer says that “it is just the right size if you are 5 ft. to 5.5 ft…" Any taller than that and you might find the stride length too short for comfort. Another common complaint about the Sunny SF-E3804 is its lack of programmed workouts. Other than that, though, this is a solid choice if getting in shape also means sticking to a budget.

Pros

  • Quick assembly with virtually no maintenance
  • Easy to read console displays speed, time, distance, and calories
  • Accurate pulse grips for heart rate and BPM readings

Cons

  • Low non-adjustable stride length (13.5 inches)
  • No built-in workout programs

3. Cubii Pro

Best Under Desk Elliptical Under $500

Dimensions (L x W x H)

23” x 17” x 9”

Elliptical Stride Length

N/A

No. of Resistance Levels

8

Weight Capacity (Max User Weight – lbs)

N/A

No. Of Workout Programs

0

Warranty

1 year

The Cubii Pro is the perfect under desk elliptical to help you stay in shape, even when you spend all your time at the office. One of the biggest challenges of holding a desk job is finding time to exercise and the risks involved in a sedentary lifestyle, but that is no longer a problem with the Cubii Pro.  It's small size fits perfectly under any desk space, so much that your work colleagues won’t even know it’s there.

This elliptical is ergonomically designed to not only keep you moving but also promote optimal posture. It allows leg movement without the risk of bumping into the underside of the desk. Even though it's small, the Cubii Pro still provides 8 separate levels of resistance. If your desk chair has wheels, you can use the included wheel stoppers to minimize chair movement.

This is the only elliptical that has Bluetooth capabilities, meaning you can connect the machine to the Cubii app for iOS or Android. With the app, you'll be able to track your movement, distance, time, and average revolutions per minute. You can even sync your workouts with FitBit and Apple HealthKit to reach your daily step goals. Overall, the Cubii Pro is a fantastic alternative when you don't have time to hit the gym or take a spin at your in-home elliptical.

Pros

  • Ergonomic design that promotes posture and strengthens muscles
  • Whisper quiet ideal for office spaces
  • Bluetooth capabilities to track progress and daily steps
  • Small enough to fit beneath an office desk

Cons

  • Lacks the same calorie-burning capabilities as full-size ellipticals
  • "High price for a small machine."

4. Body-Solid (BFCT1)

Best Portable Elliptical Under $500

Dimensions (L x W x H)

45” x 26” x x 66”

Elliptical Stride Length

12”

No. of Resistance Levels

8

Weight Capacity (Max User Weight – lbs)

225 lbs

No. Of Workout Programs

0

Warranty

Frame: 5 years
Other parts: 1 year

For a total-body workout at home, the Body-Solid Best Fitness Crosstrainer Elliptical is a solid choice. The combined upper and lower body movements glide in a smooth rhythm that is easy on the joints yet tough on fat. This model's space-efficient design means that it will fit in most rooms of the house. And the integrated wheel system makes moving the machine easier than ever.

The multi-function LED display sits in the center of everything. It is easy to use, easy to control, and tracks everything from calories burned to heart rate. Heart rate is monitored via the hand grips located on the stationary handlebars. One reviewer says that getting an accurate heart rate reading is difficult, while others have had no trouble at all. Luckily, the warranty covers this machine parts for up to 1 year, so if you have difficulty with it at first, you can get a replacement.

This trainer comes with 8 resistance settings, a 12” stride length, and offers a running/climbing motion meant to tone, strengthen, and shed pounds. The main downside of this is the short stride length - 12 inches - which is not ideal for taller individuals. Many users say that it works great, but then they follow that up by saying they are between the heights of 5’2” and 5’9”. Anyone taller than this or that weighs more than 225 lbs. should opt for another elliptical trainer, like the Schwinn 411 Compact

Pros

  • Portable compact size
  • Great upper and lower body workout
  • A clear LCD with heart rate reading

Cons

  • Heart rate monitor faulty at times
  • Short 12” stride length

5. Exerpeutic 1318 5000

Best Elliptical Under $500 For Larger Individuals

Dimensions (L x W x H)

55” x 25” x 64”

Elliptical Stride Length

18”

No. of Resistance Levels

24

Weight Capacity (Max User Weight – lbs)

270 lbs

No. Of Workout Programs

12

Warranty

1 year

The previous models have had a maximum stride length of 16 inches, which is great for most people, but not ideal for larger individuals. If you consider yourself on the tall side of things, the Exerpeutic 1318 2000 with Double Transmission Drive is for you. The machine’s stride length reaches 18 inches, providing a comfortable and full range workout - even for taller individuals.

In addition to the 7 training modes offered by the Exerpeutic, the machine is also programmed with 12 unique workout programs. This can all be controlled on the LCD console with a double transmission drive system, where you'll also view time, distance, speed, RPM, calories, and heart rate. The console also has a spot for easy placement of your tablet or iPhone, so you can stay entertained while you sweat.

The machine's computer is capable of storing 4 separate user profiles, so everyone in the family can keep track of progress. There are 24 magnetic tension resistance levels, ranging from easy (1) to extremely difficult (24). Even though this machine is the best option for larger bodies, the compact design and transport wheel system makes moving it around the house simple. There is one downfall, though. The Exerpeutic can handle tall bodies, but you must remember that the weight limit is only 270 lbs.

Pros

  • Dual-action handlebars with hand pulse sensors
  • Long 18” stride length ideal for larger bodies
  • Lightweight, compact design for ultimate portability
  • 24 tension levels and 12 workout programs

Cons

  • 270-lb weight limit
  • The entire machine only covered under a 1-year warranty

6. Schwinn A40

Best Elliptical Under $500 For Small Spaces

Dimensions (L x W x H)

59” x 23” x 64”

Elliptical Stride Length

17.5”

No. of Resistance Levels

8

Weight Capacity (Max User Weight – lbs)

275 lbs

No. Of Workout Programs

7

Warranty

Frame: 2 years
Other parts: 6 months

The first Schwinn model we reviewed is ideal for its compact portability. The Schwinn A40 is another top choice if you need a machine suitable for small spaces. This machine's stride is just a bit shorter than the previous Schwinn, reaching 17.5 inches rather than 18. It comes equipped with 7 programmed workouts, contact hand pulse monitors on the stationary handlebars, and 8 resistance levels.

The fully-loaded LCD console is great for tracking your progress, both during your workout and over time. Similar to the other ellipticals reviewed, this one comes with a media rack for placement of a phone or tablet. One major perk is the quietness of the A40. One Amazon reviewer even states that she is “in shock of how effective it is. It is VERY silent on carpet and a sturdy machine.”

However, the assembly has proven to be difficult for some users. It's extremely important that you follow all instructions when assembling your new elliptical. A helpful hint is to avoid tightening the bolts until every piece and part is properly in place. Other than that, purchasing the Schwinn A40 is a great way to get the best fitness technology, without breaking the bank.

Pros

  • High performance at an affordable price
  • Unique console design with 7 workout programs
  • 17.5” stride length perfect for tall bodies
  • Compact design and high portability

Cons

  • Difficult assembly process
  • Only 8 resistance levels

7. ProForm Hybrid

Best Bike/Elliptical Hybrid Under $500

Dimensions (L x W x H)

47” x 26” x 18”

Elliptical Stride Length

15”

No. of Resistance Levels

16

Weight Capacity (Max User Weight – lbs)

350 lbs

No. Of Workout Programs

16 workout apps installed

Warranty

Frame: 5 years
Other parts: 3 months

The ProForm doesn’t just serve as a standing elliptical machine, but also provides the comfort of a seated bike. Anyone looking for the best exercises to do at home but torn between purchasing a seated bike or a standing elliptical will love this hybrid trainer. Both the standing elliptical and recumbent bike provide a low-impact form of exercise, both offering the potential to burn fat and lose weight.

Men’s Journal says that "doing intervals on a stationary bike is a great way to maximize your calorie burn in minimum time." The fitness magazine also discusses the effectiveness of ellipticals: "These machines were originally designed to minimize the impact on the knees and hips, but still allow a great workout." With the ProForm, you can take advantage of both.

Here's how it works. When you want to use the elliptical, you'll keep the adjustable pedals flush against the track. If you want to switch over to the seated bike, simply raise the pedals so that you can comfortably reach them with your feet. The padded bike seat is also adjustable, sliding backward or forwards depending on the user's height.

We haven’t even talked about the best part. The ProForm comes equipped with 16 workout apps fully loaded onto the machine’s LCD digital console. You also have the option to purchase an iFit membership, which can be synced with the machine. An iFit workout gives users an interactive personal training session from the comforts of home. The only downside is that the less durable parts are only covered by a 90-day warranty. However, the structural frame is covered for 5 years from the date of purchase.

Pros

  • 2-in-1 machine with a bike and elliptical combo
  • 16 loaded workout apps and access to iFit
  • High weight limit of 350 lbs
  • Fully adjustable padded bike seat and pedals

Cons

  • Short warranty period for parts (90 days)
  • iFit membership not included

8. Sunny Fitness (SF-E3862)

Best Rated Elliptical Under $500

Dimensions (L x W x H)

63” x 21” x 66”

Elliptical Stride Length

15.75”

No. of Resistance Levels

16

Weight Capacity (Max User Weight – lbs)

265 lbs

No. Of Workout Programs

24

Warranty

Frame: 3 years
Other parts: 6 months

If your main priority for your fitness routine is innovative digital features, try the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E3862. This machine is loaded with special features, like 24 exercise presets, a BMI calculator, 16 resistance levels, and 7 workout modes. The pulse monitor is located on the stationary handlebars, offering an accurate reading of heart rate and overall performance.

The non-slip pedals of the SF-E3862 automatically adjust to incline with the natural movement of your feet. The stride length is long enough for even the tallest users - 15.75 inches - and the machine supports up to 265 lbs. Even if your home is experiencing a power outage, you can use this machine in manual mode. The resistance level will pick up where you left off last, but you won't have access to the digital capabilities when using the machine manually.

Other special features include a water bottle holder, a device holder on the main console, and transportation wheels for portability. You can set your target heart rate and check your progress before, after, and during each workout. The only negative feedback about this Sunny Health & Fitness model is that it's not as quiet as other elliptical trainers.

Pros

  • Tons of special features like 24 preset workout modes
  • Offers an accurate BMI calculator
  • Amazing value for the price
  • Machine functions even when unplugged

Cons

  • Noisier than other elliptical models
  • Maximum supported weight only 265 lbs

Price Range of Ellipticals

Ellipticals for in-home use vary in price, ranging anywhere from $200 to $2,000 or more. The price of an elliptical trainer depends on what type of machine it is (compact, hybrid, under-desk, etc.), the special performance features included (resistance, stride length, program modes), the materials used and the status of the manufacturer.

Buying a cheap elliptical does not mean you have invested in a cheaply made machine. It just means that the machine might not have as many unique features, or perhaps it is a compact model. Try not to assume that a higher price tag automatically means a higher-quality machine. Determine your specific needs first, and if those needs include a safe and effective source for low-impact cardio, opt for an elliptical that is $500 instead of $5,000.


Treadmills Vs. Ellipticals for Fitness

Running, no matter if it is on a treadmill, outdoors in nature, or on an indoor track, is considered to be high impact. Every time each foot hits the pavement, there is a significant “impact” on the entire body. This is not suitable for everyone, especially for older individuals with achy joints and sore muscles trying to stay true to a cardio regimen.

Unlike a treadmill, an elliptical is extremely low-impact and is the ideal solution for anyone suffering from knee or back issues. However, there are a few major similarities between treadmills and ellipticals. No matter if you choose a treadmill or elliptical, you will receive a great cardio workout, burn calories, and get your heart racing and blood flowing.

When comparing the number of calories burned, BuiltLean says that “the average calories burned jogging on a treadmill for one hour was 705 to 866.  By comparison, an estimate by Health Status found using an elliptical trainer for one hour will burn approximately 773 calories.” Yes, a treadmill has a slight advantage in the number of calories burned, but the low-impact nature of an elliptical makes up for this.


Recumbent Bikes Vs. Ellipticals for Fitness

If low-impact cardio is your main priority, don’t even consider investing in a treadmill. You can, however, think about purchasing one of the top-rated recumbent bikes on the market. Similar to an elliptical, a recumbent bike has minimal impact on the body. When seated on a recumbent bike, the body is entirely relaxed, and a backrest supports the spine. For this reason, a recumbent bike is ideal for elderly and senior exercise.

However, if you want to burn more calories and lose more weight, an elliptical is the better choice. While using an elliptical, there is movement in both the upper and lower body, whereas a recumbent bike only focuses on the legs. For a more intense workout focused on more muscle groups and more calories burned, opt for an elliptical.


Care, Maintenance & Cleaning

The good news is that an elliptical is considered to be a low-maintenance fitness machine. This means that it is unlikely that you’ll ever need the machine serviced as long as you take proper care of it. However, there is still some maintenance involved in ensuring the longevity of an elliptical machine if you want to keep it running smoothly.

After each use, you should clean the machine. Focus on the parts that have come in contact with your body during the workout, like the foot pedals, handlebars, and display console. Using a soft wipe or towel and a mild cleaning agent, wipe down these surfaces once your workout is completed. Keeping the machine clean won’t just eliminate the spread of bacteria, but it will also increase the lifespan of the elliptical.


Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any health restrictions for using an elliptical?

As long as you are in decent health, there are no health risks involved in using an elliptical. However, if you have recently suffered from a serious injury, surgical procedure, or have been advised by a doctor to avoid intense cardio, avoid using an elliptical trainer.

Is it safe for pregnant women, the elderly, or anyone with health issues?

Generally speaking, it is safe for pregnant women and elderly individuals in good health to use an elliptical. When in doubt, though, consult with your healthcare provider to ensure that elliptical cardio poses no threat to your health.

Are ellipticals safe to use every day?

As long as you understand the basics of the elliptical trainer and don't overdo it, it is entirely safe to use the machine every day. Limit your cardio session to 30 minutes and always perform a few minutes of warm-up and cool down. If you strain yourself from overuse, avoid the elliptical until your symptoms/injury has subsided.  

How do I measure and determine my stride length?

To make the most of your elliptical workout, choosing the right stride length is crucial. The wrong stride length could result in injury, especially if the length is too long. Stride lengths for traditional ellipticals under $500 typically range between 16 and 21 inches and can be set using the screen console (if there is one).

For shorter individuals measuring 5’3 or shorter, stride length should be set between 16 and 18 inches. For users between 5’4 and 6’4, set the stride length between 18 and 21 inches. If you are taller than 6’4, you might consider investing in a specialty elliptical meant for tall individuals, but these models cost much more than $500.

Are expensive ellipticals worth investing in?

For taller people needing a longer stride length than the ones provided by a traditional elliptical model, yes. But if you simply want a form of low-impact cardio to get your heart racing, no. Elliptical trainers costing less than $500 will get the job done. For additional features, though, searching for an elliptical between $500 and $1,000 might be your best bet.

Can I buy these online even though they are large?

Absolutely. These days you can purchase anything online (Amazon your best option), and it will be delivered right to your doorstep. Just remember that you will have to assemble the machine yourself in some cases unless you have invested in professional assembly along with your purchase.


Conclusion

Out of all the models reviewed, rated, and compared, you can’t go wrong with the Schwinn 411 Compact. It’s perfect for getting a full-body workout while only taking up a fraction of the space compared to other machines. It offers one of the best exercises for legs and upper body, all while staying within the $500 budget.

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