The best choice of exercise is that which gives the most satisfaction. Many factors must be considered to determine suitability of physical activity, but one should certainly like the sports he chooses. There is little to be gained, and much lost, in teaching a girl who wants to go swimming how to swing a pair of Indian clubs instead.
Exercise should be fun! Exercise is part of the normal desire for play that inhabits the human psyche. In young children play and exercise are nearly synonymous.
Several important studies have shown that sports and games are definitely better than calisthenics and apparatus work in conditioning men for physical fitness. Wilbur's study of college freshmen, for example, indicated that games were better than formal gymnastics in building strength in the arms and shoulder girdle, in establishing body coordination, agility, and control, and in reaching a higher degree of general physical fitness.
Recreation has been defined as "activity for pleasure." It achieves relaxation of mind and muscle. The range of recreational exercises is far broader than most people think. Here are some of the possibilities: walking, swimming, dancing, skating, rowing, canoeing, fencing, bicycling, horseback riding, tennis, squash, handball, Softball, volleyball, badminton, skiing, sailing, hunting, table tennis, archery, bowling, fishing, gardening, croquet, shuffle board, horseshoe pitching, hiking, climbing, and golf. How many of these recreations have you tried? All of these can be coeducational if desired.
Walking is the most flexible and natural of all forms of exercise. Dancing also is a beneficial form of exercise, especially folk dancing and "modern dance." Social dancing has its place too. The rhythms of dance can afford release of emotional and psychosexual tensions rather than unduly heightening them. There is an advantage in learning sports and obtaining reasonable proficiency at games that you can play for fun for many years after college.
A contrast between work and play activity is also advisable. People whose occupations are generally sedentary and indoors should choose games and sports that take them out of doors and offer opportunity for the exercise of trunk, leg, and arm muscles. Conversely, the man who stands on his feet all day should not select recreations that keep him on his feet all night too.