03/05/2014 10:01 am ET Updated 4 days ago

5 Fascinating Things You Don't Know About Your Body

By Corrie Pikul

From head to toe, it's full of surprises.

  • One (secret) part of you is aging with exceptional grace.
    Colin Hawkins via Getty Images
    When Japanese researchers looked at the blood of healthy volunteers ranging from 20 to 90 years old, they found that the rate of decline in certain disease-fighting and youth-preserving cells was slower in women than in men. This led them to determine that women's immune systems stay younger for longer. So, yes, you may have a few gray hairs or laugh lines, but your cells inside are smoking-hot.
  • You can out-accelerate a racecar.
    Jupiterimages via Getty Images
    Well, a part of you can...or two parts, really. When they get moving, the nipples on C- or D-cup-sized breasts can accelerate to 45 mph in one second, which is even faster than a Ferrari, reports Amanda Hess in her eye-opening ESPN article. (Laws of physics lead us to believe that smaller breasts are probably a little slower; maybe they'd just tie with the racecar.) Fortunately, the latest biodynamic sports bras were developed by scientists to make sure everything moves forward (and up, and down, and all around) with control.
  • Your sense of smell can help you pick a mate...or a random chemical.
    Tim Robberts via Getty Images
    Pregnant women are famous for being able to sniff out an open bag of potato chips from at least a room away. But new research shows that all women may have enhanced olfactory abilities—at least at certain times of the month. Ovulating women, researchers at the University of Ottawa found, were better able to detect the subtle odor of the chemical n-butanol, suggesting that their noses were more sensitive overall. Other studies have discovered that women in this part of their cycle can pick up on musky scents and male pheromones. The next time your husbands socks seem to go from stinky to offensive to, well, rude, remind yourself it's not his feet. It's your ovaries.
  • You have secret stores of a tissue that can burn calories like a furnace.
    Image Source via Getty Images
    Okay, so it happens to be fat tissue, but it's not your typical bulge-forming, hormone-disrupting, organ-clogging white fat. The function of this other fat, which is brown, is primarily to keep us warm, and it does that by sucking up fat from the rest of the body and burning it as fuel. Until recently, it was believed that only infants had brown fat (which is how it got the nickname "baby fat"). And although scientists are still trying to figure out how this complicated, beguiling fat works and what else it can do for us, they know that we make more of it when we exercise and that women (of every size) have substantially higher amounts of it than men.
  • You are not the only woman in the room who is secretly freaking out about something.
    John Cowie via Getty Images
    (We promise.) Hormonal fluctuations, social pressure to make sure everybody around us is "happy" or "okay," not to mention some quirky brain chemistry that affects how we process threats, is why a third of women will be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives (33 percent of women vs. just 22 percent of men). While that news probably isn't very comforting right now, it might be the next time you find yourself quaking with worry...about your career, your child's safety or about the arsenic levels in the rice you eat at least twice a week.

As a reminder, always consult your doctor for medical advice and treatment before starting any program.

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