There's always been some concern that the passive nature of television entertainment will lead to health problems in TV viewers. If viewers spend too much time simply sitting in front of their TV sets, authorities and health professionals worry, they'll miss out on important opportunities to exercise, eat well and engage in other activities that will help them to lead long, healthy lives. Health and fitness TV programming is an attempt to avoid that danger by presenting viewers with shows that will encourage them to develop healthy habits.
The workout program is a subgenre of fitness TV that has been popular with viewers for more than three decades. In 1982, actress Jane Fonda released her first workout video, a program of aerobic exercise designed to lead viewers through a cardiovascular fitness routine. Fonda's first video was immensely popular, and it spawned an entire genre of fitness programs. As exercise trends have changed, exercise programs have changed with them, and programs featuring yoga, pilates, kickboxing, strength training, fitness dancing and other workout techniques have tried to get TV viewers off the couch.
Diet is also often a focus of health programming, and shows that give viewers advice for eating better and losing weight complement exercise programs. The weight-loss program has even merged with the reality genre; The Biggest Loser follows overweight contestants as they compete to lose the most weight and win prizes.
Informational health programming is less focused than fitness programming on the actual physical involvement of viewers. In these shows, health issues and medical innovations are addressed in a factual manner. Some programs are structured like a typical television talk show, and a health-expert host presents medical information and answers questions about health issues.