Blogs reciprocal link like mad. They call it blogrolling. Ask yourself, do you think they are they penalized?
Should you exchange links? IF your site is high quality with good content then hell yes, I think it makes sense to exchange links with good quality sites. It will help a NEW site rank for more longtail phrases then grow from there as more people discover your site.
If your site is poor quality then probably not. From there you have to write unique content that makes other sites want to link to it, etc. more information here [webmasterworld.com].