Besides eating an enviable palate of Mediterranean foods, the citizens of Italy also keep active. Italians of all ages live the sweet life, la dolce vita, by getting out into the fresh air and the beautiful Italian light and moving their bodies. They walk, they bike, they garden, they spend time outdoors.

Part of this is for health reasons, to maintain mobility when older, to stay strong, to stay active, but I’m sure some of it is to keep ready for amore, love. Italians love to love.

We’ve talked previously about the concept of la bella figura in all its incarnations. In this week’s discussion we’re literally talking about your beautiful body.

Part of maintaining la bella figura is so you can dress nicely but also so you feel comfortable in your own skin. Exercise helps you move with grace. It makes you happy, improves your attitude and your self-esteem.

It’s not about looking young but more about how you feel.

You don’t need to be a size 2. As women we are supposed to have curves. Just look at Sophia Loren, Italy’s most beautiful example of la bella figura. It’s not realistic to strive for the boyish figure of a fashion model whose job is literally to be a clothes hanger. Some people’s bodies look like that naturally and that’s fine. But don’t try to force your body to be something it is not. Keep it healthy and feeling good. Do whatever works for you.

None of us have perfect bodies. Appreciate what you have and emphasize it.

A positive personal body image makes you a more open person, open to new experiences, new relationships, new adventures. An open mind draws people to you. La bella figura leads to amore.

Move Your Beautiful Body
Start by moving 15 minutes a day. Walk the dog. Dance to your favorite tunes. Try something meditative like t’ai chi or yoga. Work your way up to more. Of course, check with your doctor before you begin any exercise program.

My favorite workouts involve low-impact aerobics, like Jane Fonda’s Walk Out. Jane’s DVD is a great way to get started. She does an excellent job of explaining how and why you are doing each move. It’s not too strenuous yet you get a good workout.

When I’m feeling more advanced, I like Leslie Sansone’s Walk At Home 5 Day Slim Down. It’s a brisker pace than Jane Fonda’s walking DVD. There are five separate mile-long walks on one disc. You can do one or combine more for a longer workout. Leslie’s personality is pleasant and always positive.

For strengthening, balance and posture, I like the New York City Ballet Workout Volume II. It’s an older DVD but ballet is timeless. If you’ve never taken a ballet class, this may be hard to follow as they use classic ballet terms and don’t explain the moves. But if you have experience with ballet, this DVD is a thorough workout. You’ll feel tall and beautiful when you are finished.

Now it’s your turn. Enjoy your beauty. Take pleasure in feeling good.

How are you going to add movement to your day?

Click here to read the entire La Dolce Vita Series.