Dear Abby: Girl who shies away from gym can enjoy a good, long walk

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.

Dear Abby: If you go to a party and bring something (chips, soda, etc.), what is the rule of etiquette about taking it home when you leave? – Practical in Idaho

Dear Practical: When someone brings food to a party, it could be considered a host/hostess gift. Before taking any of it home, first ask your host or hostess if it would be all right. While some people wouldn’t mind, others may, so you shouldn’t assume that because you brought something that the leftovers are yours.