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The Healing Power of Running

I have a bronchial asthma ever since I was a child. I am not allowed to play and get sweat. I need to be always careful from the dusts. The heating sun must be avoided from 11:00 am until 3:00 pm. I must not run, I should not lift heavy objects. I have to eat grilled draco Rizal (flying lizards), poor turtles, raw fresh native egg, and even visits to Albularyos or faith healers.

All these did not contribute any improvement to my condition except for one, the health effect of running which until now, for the past 12 years, I have been resistant from the pain and hardships of an Asthma attack.

I was 16 then, Freshman in College, my first time to join any athletic sports. It filled me with chills and a running voltage in my veins. If it is not for the undying encouragement of my classmates and for an exemption from the Midterm exams in Physical Education subject, I really couldn't have joined this event. With my small physique, it would really look like I would be the first patient of an Ambulance.

We rode in 4 buses of PMA (Philippine Military Academy) from Burnham Park going down to Kennon Road beyond the boundary of Baguio City, reaching Tuba Benguet where the starting line is. The route is unimaginable. Far more from the famous Lion's head in Kennon Rd., Tuba is the starting line going up/back to Burnham Park, Baguio City for the finish line. The only road that is flat is about a stretch of 100 meters from the starting line, and all of the remaining distance is a non-forgiving zigzag and upward road (whew!). Thinking from now, I cannot run that same course again.

After the signal fired up, just a few meters away from the starting line, my lungs started to contract, my air passage started its cat-like wheezing. But having inherited my clan's ever-rising pride, I did not want to surrender. I'm ashamed just thinking of some medics rushing into me while I collapse, bringing me to the ambulance, and reaching the Hospital dying from an Asthma. Worst, is that we don't have allotted budget for any kind of hospitalizations.

So I continued running, walking, and crawling on every sharp upward curve of the road, praying deeply that God would not allow any bad thing to happen to me. In the middle of the race, I am still struggling for my breath while trying to step my feet in a constant pace. My eyes are already half-closed, and I can feel my feet slowly retiring, my breathing is much, much, much deeper than anyone else around. I feel, and I know that I'm already dying, but I just kept on praying, kept on fighting. Some people at the water station are shouting "keep on moving... keep on running... do not stop...". I also heard some sudden, hard coughs combined with a loud release of shout/air from other runners. I did the same hoping that it would lessen the strain I'm feeling from my chest. And it worked, it really did. A few more cough-shout-air release and some phlegm kept on coming out every time I do it (yucckk, snots!).

At that little-by-little, and small relief which I felt, I know that God have already answered my prayer. And that prayer, that answer, is still in effect to me even up to this time since I have no longer experienced the pain and hardships of an Asthma attack.

Upon seeing the concrete archway at Camp 8 with a "Welcome to Baguio City" phrase, my adrenaline rushed again throughout my body. The road is still going upward but I suddenly felt that I can already run a little bit faster than before, and so I did. I maintained the same speed until I reached the streets of Kisad Rd., going to Burnham Park, and finally, reaching the finish line. I was even surprised at the finish line upon knowing that I have outpaced my classmates who asked me to join, who are more taller, looking healthier than me, and have no asthma or any ailments.

It is such a good feeling, such a great accomplishment to me. After the race, I rested for 7 days, then I started jogging for 10 kilometers each day upon waking up. It has been my morning habit for 3 years, and I still joined local running events in Baguio whenever I have an extra money for the registration fee.

Below are the details of this event which almost killed me, but in return, have given me full healing from my asthma.

Event: 1st Baguio Zigzag Run
When: Aug. 31, 1997.
Where: Kennon Rd., Tuba, Benguet to Burnham Park, Baguio City
Distance: 10 km.
Personal Time: 01:35:25
Ranking: 93rd

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Men's Health Philippines Urbanathlon & Festival 2008

Ahhh... The breeze of nature in the campus of UP Diliman. The place where the 2nd Men's Health Philippines Urbanathlon & Festival will be held. This is also my second participation in Men's Health Philippines' organized running event, and my second run since I've joined the corporate world. This time, I was able to form two groups with four members each, all composed of my officemates.

The Men's Health Urbanathlon & Festival is a one of a kind event, where not only your endurance limits is tested, but also your skills in surpassing the obstacles along the way. The obstacles includes the Road Block or series of obstacles with height of around 2 feet; the Car Traffic; Marine Hurdles which is around 3.5 feet in height; Crawl; Planks where you have to pass over it while balancing; Move through the parked Pick-ups by getting over; and the wall climb which stand around 8 feet.

The registration fee is only P300.00 with freebies such as a dri-fit shirt (with printed event name); knapsack bag; Cherifer premium vitamin sample; Snickers chocolate (though my kit doesn't have one, so unlucky). The freebies didn't end there since after the race, there's still a line of foods in the stalls free for the runners.

Personal Race Profile:
Distance: Approx. 9.75km.
Play: Team
Personal Time: 1:13:01
Personal Ranking:
Team Time (official average): 1:xx:xx
Team Ranking: xx

Race Info:
When: Nov. 16, 2008.
Where: UP Diliman, Quezon City
Race Map:

Click here to download the official race results.
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Men's Health Philippines Miracle Run 2008

It's my first run for Men's Health, and also my first run ever since I've joined the corporate world. My last run was in my College years - The Panagbenga Festival's 1st 21k marathon run in Baguio City during the Flower Festival celebration held last Feb. 27, 2000.

I was so excited for the Men's Health Miracle run. This time, I am not running for myself alone, but also for the GMA Kapuso Foundation - the "run for a cause" of this event. Four of my officemates also joined the event who are all first time runners. They ran in teams of two, while I joined the Individual category.

Running on the streets of Fort Bonifacio gave me more excitement. Though I have already expected that my knee joints will give-in due to rheumatism, or arhtritis, or lack of proper training. And that's where my knee pads helped a lot. And I thought that I will not be able to finish the full 10 kilometer because of aged joints, aged training, and aged in the office chair. But I was surprised upon seeing my elapsed time on the finish line - 1 Hour and 9 minutes. Not bad enough for me when I expected that I would finish for about 2 hours due to my slow pace in the middle of the race route.

Personal Race Profile:
Distance: 10 km. Individual
My Personal Time: 1:09:08
Ranking: 263rd

Race Info:
When: Aug. 17, 2008.
Where: Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City
Race Map:

Click here to download the official race result.
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Researchers Uncover Cause of Asthma

Natural killer cells leave people breathless

By William J. Cromie
Harvard News Office

Medical experts have been baffled by what causes asthma. Most of them favor the idea that it stems from "helper" cells that have gone awry. But researchers at Harvard Medical School (HMS) have come up with convincing evidence that the answer lies in a special type of natural "killer" cell.

"We were very, very surprised," admits Dale Umetsu, a professor of pediatrics at the Medical School and at Harvard-affiliated Children's Hospital in Boston. "People have been confused about which cells in the lungs are responsible for all these years. Now, we have to rethink the results of so many studies. Our new findings were totally unexpected."

An estimated 17 million-20 million people in the United States suffer from asthma, and cases of it have been increasing since the early 1980s, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Every day, in this country, 30,000 people suffer an asthma attack, and 14 people die from the disease.

So, knowing exactly which cells should be targeted for treatment is a vital part of relieving a lot of misery for lots of people.

Asthma occurs when the body's natural system of defense against bacteria, viruses, and other harmful microbes becomes overprotective. It misidentifies relatively harmless pollens, dust, and dander, setting up a reaction that narrows and inflames small airways in the lungs. From that comes breathlessness, wheezing, tissue damage, and, in the worst cases, death.

In the standard textbook version of what happens, so-called T helper cells respond to ragweed, dust, and other irritants by secreting proteins that attack the irritants as if they are bits of disease-causing bacteria or viruses. Umetsu and his colleagues decided to take a look at this process from a new perspective. They checked the lung cells of 25 patients, 14 of whom were nonsmokers with moderate to severe asthma. To their surprise, they found that most of the trouble-raising cells in the lungs of asthmatics aren't helper cells but a little-known group of natural killer cells. In general, killer cells enjoy the reputation of destroying disease-causing invaders, but this special group wages war on otherwise normal lungs.

The finding means that physicians may not be treating asthma sufferers with the right kinds of drugs. For example, natural killer T cells seem to be resistant to the corticosteroids in widely used inhalers.

No helpers for asthma

As surprising as this discovery is, Umetsu and his colleagues had previously uncovered hints that killer cells might be implicated. Only recently has there been technology available to easily identify the presence of natural killer T cells. In 2003, at Stanford University, Umetsu and his colleagues took advantage of the new technology to study what went on in the lungs of asthmatic mice. They were startled to find that mice without natural killer T cells don't get asthma.

By 2005, Umetsu had moved to HMS and was part of a team whose investigations demonstrated that activating natural killer T cells in the complete absence of the helper T cells could give mice asthma. They reported the details of their work in the Feb. 21, 2006, issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Naturally, "our unexpected results in mice prodded us to ask if natural killer T cells are also critical to developing human asthma," Umetsu notes.

With the assistance of Omid Akbari, now an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, Stanford's John Faul, and 25 volunteer patients, an Umetsu team became the first to show the major importance of natural killer cell activity in causing asthma in people. They reported the details of their experiments in the March 16 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine. Other members of the team include Rosemarie DeKruyff of HMS and researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology in California.

Stopping the killers

Umetsu and his colleagues expect that their astonishing results will lead to more effective treatments for a condition that accounts for one out of every four emergency room visits in the United States. New drugs, for example, may be aimed at blocking only the activities of the killer T cells.

"These cells actually make up a small population of cells in our blood," Umetsu points out. "But in the lungs of people with asthma, they apparently proliferate and overexpand. Novel drugs and other treatments would be aimed at reducing their numbers in the lungs, or preventing them from becoming activated.

That could be tricky. "We are working on ways to get at the natural killer T cells without knocking out helper T cells, which are involved in many different kinds of protective responses," Umetsu explains. Such responses include defenses against microbes like the AIDS and bird flu viruses, and bacteria that cause tuberculosis. Drugs that knock out the killer cells without hindering the work of helper cells would have fewer side effects, and should be more effective than the steroids in inhalers. The steroids were designed to cripple helper T cells only.

Before people can buy such drugs at local stores, however, more research is needed to understand better how the killers work. "We want to find out how natural killer T cells get into lungs in the first place, and exactly how they get activated," Umetsu explains. "We need to look at many more patients, including children, to determine if the number of natural killer T cells correlates with the severity of the asthma."

The role of these nasty killer cells is also being studied in other maladies, including inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, and a number of infectious diseases. For example, a different Harvard group has recently found that natural killer T cells play a part in unexplained cases of recurring pregnancy loss and preterm births in mice.

Reference: Harvard University Gazette

Other helpful sources:
Medline Plus: Asthma
Wikipedia: Asthma
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Body Muscle Map

Curious about your body muscle map? Do you know where your muscles are located in your body? Which core muscle groups belong to each other and what are their scientific names? Check out the image below to get a glimpse of your core body muscle map. Photo credits from Shapefit - Get into shape. Stay fit.

Front Muscles

Back / Rear Muscles

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About Me

What is this Blog for?

This blog is primarily intended to be an online journal about the owner's personal experiences, aspirations, reviews, reactions and insights about everything that matters and interests him on a physical health and fitness level. Some posts also came from articles from different reading materials and internet sources. Catching his interest and attention, and realizing the level of importance of the information, re-posted it to keep the richness alive throughout the age of this blog.

Who is RunningAtom?

RunningAtom Logo
Alfredo Vedarozaga - more commonly known as "RunningAtom" in the running community. Born healthy, but grew up malnourished in his younger years under the care of random Nannies. With his small physique, and bearing the heavy weight of an asthma, any physical sports and activity is a great challenge to him. How many times that he dreamt about himself on a coffin during an onset of asthma attack. How many times that he's been dragged down by a buffalo, cow, and even a goat from the top of a mountain down to the streams!

It was so, not until his first fun run participation in exchange for an exception from the PE1 Midterms exam. It was then that his physical life had greatly changed from an asthmatic, weak, and feeble-looking guy to an athletically-slimmed, toned man (except still for the height)!

From then on, he started participating and enjoying his new found love for sports such as Tae-Kwon-Do, Table Tennis, Hiking, Mountain Climbing and Running. On his corporate life, RunningAtom began to take a joyful step with weight lifting to compensate his small physique (and height) and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Billiards, Badminton, Airsoft, Bowling, and other sports have also become his past time after a stressful office day.

RunningAtom's favorite distance is 10-km and 21-km, but has also raced longer distances from 32-km, the full 42-km Marathon, and his longest to date, a 50-km Ultramarathon.

Contact Me
By e-mail: runningatom710[at]gmail[dot]com
By tweet: @RunningAtom
Leave a message on this post.

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G6PD Deficiency

Ref: Newborn Screening Reference Center

What is G6PD deficiency?
Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency, or G6PD deficiency for short, is the most common "inborn metabolic disorder" in the world. This means that from the time a baby is born, thre is already something wrong with how his body makes and breaks important substances. According to statistics, about 400 million people have G6PD deficiency, and it is most common in Africa, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

Babies with G6PD deficiency have very little or no enzyme called Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase (G6PD). An enzyme is a kind of protein that speeds up chemical reactions in the body. The enzyme G6PD is especially important to red blood cells. If this enzyme is lacking or missing, red blood cells are easily destroyed.

Another name for G6PD deficiency is favism because some people who have it, usually those living in the Meditteranean region, react very badly to fava beans.

What causes G6PD deficiency?
In order to understand what causes G6PD deficiency, one must first learn a bit about genes and chromosomes.

Genes are like the body's blueprints. They contain instructions on how specific parts of the body are made. For example, if the isntructions in your hair genes say your hair is black, your hair will be black. Genes are packaged into threadlike structures called chromosomes. A chromosome is very much like a beaded bracelet. The beads are the different genes that give instructions for different part of the body; the entire bracelet is the chromosome. Genes usually come and act in pairs. One member of a specific pair comes from the father, and the other member comes from the mother. The members of a pair are located on paired chromosomes.

All normal human beings have 23 pairs of chromosomes. Each of the first 22 pairs contain the same number and kind of genes. The last and 23rd pair is the sex chromosomes. They are different from the first 22 pairs in that they do not have the same number and kind of genes. The sex chromosomes contain the genes that determine whether a baby will be a girl or a boy.

There are 2 kinds of sex chromosomes, X and Y. All baby girls have two X chromosomes. All baby boys have one X and one Y. The gene that gives instructions on how G6PD is made is found in the X chromosome only, thus G6PD deficiency is described as X-linked.

If a baby girl gets one defective G6PD gene from either of her parents, she will not have G6PD deficiency because she has another G6PD gene that can do the work (remember: a baby girl has two X chromosomes, thus two G6PD genes). But if she gets two defective G6PD genes from both her parents, she will have G6PD deficiency. On the other hand, a baby boy whose G6PD gene is defective will surely get G6PD deficiency because the Y chromosome has no G6PD gene.

A defective G6PD gene will give wrong instructions on how to make the enzyme G6PD. As a result, too little or none of it is made.

What are the harmful effects of G6PD deficiency?
G6PD has a very small but strategic role in protecting the body from substances that can cause damage to cells or oxidative substances. Because of this important role, G6PD is normally found in all parts of the body. To be sure, most parts of the body also keep a "spare" enzyme, one that can do the work of G6PD in case it is lacking or missing entirely. Unfortunately, this is not the case with red blood cells. They do not have spare enzymes that can do the work of G6PD. If a baby does not have enough G6PD, his red blood cells lack protection from the harmful effects of oxidative substances.

A baby with G6PD deficiency appears and remains healthy until he is exposed to a large amount of oxidative substances. When this happens, his red blood cells are destroyed, a process known as hemolysis.

Red blood cells carry oxygen to all parts of the body. When they undergo hemolysis, the baby will have hemolytic anemia. The signs and symptoms of hemolytic anemia are paleness, dizziness, headache, tea-colored urine, and abdominal or back pain or both. Hemolytic anemia, when very severe, can end in death. Destroyed red blood cells are brought to the liver to be broken down to smaller pieces for disposal. One of the end products of this process is bilirubin, a yellowish substance that accumulates in different parts of the body when too much of it is produced. Quite often, bilirubin accumulates in the skin and causes it to appear yellowish. In the worst cases, biliribin accumulates in the brain and causes mental retardation or death.

Where do oxidative substances come from?
Hemolysis of red blood cells will only occur IF and WHEN a G6PD deficient child is exposed to oxidative substances. Oxidative substances are found in certain drugs, foods, and beverages. The body also produces oxidative substances during severe infections or illnesses such as typhoid fever, pneumonia, or kidney failure.

Most drugs with strong oxidative effects are of kinds:
1. antibiotics of the sulfa group
2. medicines for malaria
3. some medicines for fever

How is G6PD deficiency treated?
When a child has taken oxidative substances and suddenly shows the signs and symptoms of hemolytic anemia, he is said to have a hemolytic crisis. During such crisis, the goal of doctors and nurses is to prevent the harmful effects from getting worse. Blood transfusion, oxygen, and folic acid may be given.

The ultimate treatment for G6PD deficiency is gene theraphy (replacing a defective gene with a good one), but this is not yet available at the present time.

As parent, what should I do to prevent a hemolytic crisis?
1. Tell your child's pediatrician that your child has G6PD deficiency. This is very important so that he will not prescribe oxidative drugs in case your child gets ill. He would also be able to watch out for hemolytic crisis and would immediately know what to do just in case it happens.

2. Keep your list of oxidative substances in a handy place. Better yet, post it in a convenient spot on the kitchen wall. ALways double-check food, beverage, and medicine labels against the list.

3. Memorize the signs and symptoms of hemolytic anemia: paleness, diziness, headache, difficulty in breathing, rapid and strong heartbeats, tea-colored urine, and abdominal or back pain. Bring your child to his pediatrician as soon as these signs and symptoms appear.

4. Do not ignore infections. Persistent fever signals an infection. Bring the child at once to his pediatrician.

5. As your child gets older, honestly and gently tell him about his condition and teach him to be careful about what he eats.

IMPORTANT REMINDERS for G6PD deficiency Individuals

1. If you have coughs, cold or other bacterial or viral infections, make sure to inform your doctor that your have G6PD. (Kung mayroon kang ubo't sipon o iba pang sakit, huwag kalimutang sabihin sa doctor na mayroon kang G6PD deficiency).

2. If you have ingested or were exposed to any medication and your urine became tea-colred inform your doctor immediately. (Kung may nainom kang gamot at and ihi mo ay kulay tsaa, tumawag kaagad ng doktor.)

3. If you have yellowish discoloration of your skin, sclera or any part of your body, consult your doctor immediately. (Kung napansin mong naninilaw ang iyong balat, mata o alinmang bahagi ng iyong katawan, kumunsulta kaagad sa doktor.)

4. Avoid ingestion of or exposure to the following food, drugs and chemicals: (Iwasan and mga sumusunod na gamot at kemikal):


Fava Beans - Dingdong nuts, Mr. Bean
Legumes - Habitswelas, Garbanzos, Kadyos or Black Beans, Monggo
Soya Food - Taho, Tofu or Tokwa, Soy Sauce
Tonic Water
Bitter Melon or Ampalaya


Cattle gallstone bezoar
Honeysuckle flower
Chimonanathus flower
100% Pearl powder
Acalypha indica
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