DEAR ABBY: My mom wants me to exercise more. Currently, I just walk a lot (in my house and around the block). I know exercise is a good idea, but I'm really self-conscious about it. I never feel like I'm doing it right (because I know you can easily pull a muscle), and I feel like everyone else in the gym is judging me.
Now that I'm 17, Mom expects me to be more mature about this. I don't even feel comfortable swimming in public places anymore. I feel stressed about it, but Mom just thinks I'm being picky.
Being in a gym makes me feel unhappy and judged. I wish there was a better way to exercise, but I don't know what. How can I get my mom to understand how hard this is for me? -- WONDERING IN WICHITA
DEAR WONDERING: Going to a gym can be fun if you do it with a buddy. Most of the people there are more concerned with what they are doing than what anyone else is. That said, going to the gym isn't for everyone. There are many forms of exercise.
Tell your mother you would prefer to exercise on your own rather than go to a gym. Then put on your walking shoes, leave the house and walk for 20 to 30 minutes a day. It's good for you. Listen to music when you're doing it and it will make the time go quickly. And on days when you don't want to go outside, put on some music and dance. It's good for the circulation, and it's also good for the soul.