It may be time to finally sign up for that salsa class you keep putting off — you could be missing out on a healthier and happier you. Studies have shown that dancing can provide a variety of benefits for both the body and the mind. Here are four of them that may encourage you to put on your dancing shoes. 

1. It works on all body parts

Aside from being really fun, the whole-body workout is one of the best reasons to take up dancing. All that twirling and posing and jumping can work on your back, your core muscles, your legs, your arms, and more — that is, without the need for any gym equipment.

Furthermore, you can choose a form of dancing that fits with your individual needs. If you want to work on your glutes, hip hop dancing and ballet are great options to explore. But if you are looking for something low-intensity, ballroom dancing can be your calling.

2. It reduces injury risk

Dancing can improve balance and spatial awareness, both of which can reduce the risk of falls. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than one out of four older people fall each year, raising the risk of fractures and head injuries.

Speaking to CNN, Emily Sandow of NYU Langone's Harkness Center for Dance Injuries notes how athletes generally have more knee injuries compared to dancers. She adds that "the specific jump training that dancers do," may explain the reduced risk of knee injuries.

3. It helps cognitive functions

In a study involving older adults, dancing was one of the leisure activities associated with a reduced risk of dementia. Unlike walking, swimming, running, cycling and other aerobic activities, dancing can involve learning choreography. It has been suggested that this could activate certain brain regions and help preserve memory power.

Even freestyle social dancing, according to neurologist Dr. Robert Katzman, requires "constant split-second, rapid-fire decision making, which is the key to maintaining intelligence because it forces your brain to regularly rewire its neural pathways, giving you greater cognitive reserve and increased complexity of neuronal synapses."

4. It can be a way to socialize

While group fitness activities can boost your commitment to show up and get fit, studies have also shed light on the social effects of group dancing. What is it about grooving to a good song that helps us bond with others? 

Much like the "runner's high," researchers have suggested that dancing in sync with other people can release endorphins that encourage social bonding. While this remains to be proven, it is understandable that people are more likely to socialize when dancing provides a bit of escapism and a way to meet new people.