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This is the best fitness app you aren't using, but should

Instagram is my go-to source for free healthy recipes, meal plans and workout videos. Here's why you should use it too.

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You can find free workout tutorials and classes on Instagram

Patrick Holland/CNET

I think we can all agree it can be super hard to stay motivated and healthy during a pandemic. With all the added stress, it's easy to want to finish an entire sleeve of Thin Mints in bed while watching Netflix (no shame, i've done it.) Now more than ever it's really important to keep up your physical health to prevent getting sick. Exercise and cooking are a great way to do that, and, bonus, they are a helpful outlet for stress so you don't go insane laying in bed all day. 

There are many workout and meal planning apps out there to help you to eat healthier and exercise more, but I'll let you in on a little secret. My favorite one-stop shop app to staying fit and eating healthy isn't what you'd expect. Instagram is where I turn to find new workout circuits, rack up healthy cooking recipes, and hear words of encouragement from actual doctors and nutritionists. 

The best part of it all is that it's so easily accessible. I've found some of my favorite accounts from just scrolling through the feed on the Search & Explore tab, picking out the best-looking recipes and easy gym videos. You can also search keywords and phrases like "HIIT" or "meal prep" that will lead you to a ton of great options.

Instagram workout videos

There's nothing better than someone already putting in the hard work for you. Plenty of professional trainers or even just fitness influencers are constantly posting videos of their workout circuits on Instagram. From HIIT and yoga, to weight lifting and cardio, you can always find what you're looking for. 

Once I've decided how I want to sweat that day, I'll save three or four videos into my "workout category" and combine them all for a full workout. Usually, the fitness professional will explain in the caption how many intervals, reps and weight of the exercise they perform. This is super helpful because I can see exactly how the move is done, and even have the video on repeat while I complete the exercise. 

My favorite personal trainer to follow is Joey Bronston (@joebronston). He is always switching up his HIIT moves, so it keeps things exciting. 

Madalin Giorgetta (@Madalingiorgetta) is hands down the home-workout queen. Her exercises utilize common household items and bodyweight moves that anyone can do. 

For all of the yogis out there, Kerri Verna (@beachgirlyoga) has an account full of downward dogs and 1 million followers so you know she's legit. 

Instagram meal prep and recipes

View this post on Instagram

these golden little nutter butters are quickly making me rethink my fav dessert 😩 quick, are you team twix🍫 or nutter butter🥜?? leave the emoji in the comments below, I wanna know 😏 . soooo easy to make. only 5 INGREDIENTS and gluten free, dairy-free & refined sugar-free✨ felt a little spicy today and added collagen peptides and manuka honey into the pb filling 😏 what’s better than a little immune support packed in your fave cookie 🍯 you won’t regret making these!!! you guys convinced me after seeing all your tags this past week 🤗💛 . Peanut Butter Cookies 1/2 cup natural creamy peanut butter 1/4 cup maple syrup 1 tsp vanilla extract 2/3 cup almond flour 1/2 tsp baking powder Filling 1/4 cup natural creamy peanut butter 1 tbsp maple syrup (I subbed for manuka honey and also added 2 tbsp collagen peptides- totally optional) Directions: Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix together peanut butter, maple syrup & vanilla extract. Then fold in almond flour & baking powder. Roll dough into 1/2-1 inch balls and place two of them side by side on a parchment paper covered baking sheet. Repeat until you've used all the dough (you can also make just single cookie rounds). Use a wet fork to gently press down on each ball, then again 90 degrees the other direction, making criss cross lines. Bake cookies for 10-14 minutes, or until slightly golden brown around the edges. Once done, let cool completely, about 10 minutes. Filling: Mix together peanut butter and maple syrup. Once cookies have cooled, spread one cookie with filling mixture and gently press together with a second cookie. Enjoy! ✨✨ #rachaelsgoodeats #nutterbutters #quarantine2020

A post shared by Rachael DeVaux, RD, CPT, PES (@rachaelsgoodeats) on

I'm constantly drooling while I scroll through my Instagram feed. Posts about healthy peanut butter cookies, easy weeknight meals and quick grab-and-go breakfasts always make me motivated to cook up something healthy. Dietitians and food influencers are always posting their healthy meals, along with step-by-step instructions on how to make it as delicious as they do. 

My favorite thing to watch is the new IGTV feature, where Instagram foodies will post 10 minute recipe videos showing exactly how it's done. It's super easy to follow along! My all-time favorite foodie is Rachael DeVaux (@rachaelsgoodeats). She's a registered dietician and master-chef. Her healthy nutter butter cookies (above) are absolutely to die for and I make them almost once a week. 

Carissa Stanton (@Broccyourbody) is a food influencer most popular for her easy weeknight meals. Give her a follow and you'll be making her buffalo chicken stuffed sweet potatoes on repeat. 

For all the sweet-tooths who need dessert every night but still want to be healthy, Minimalist Baker (@minimalistbaker) provides healthy alternative recipes to your favorite baked goods. Think vegan and gluten-free banana chocolate chip fudgy muffins. Yum. 

Inspiration on Instagram

Aside from how-to videos on cooking and working out, I love following accounts that inspire me to live a healthy lifestyle both mentally and physically. The most important part of that is to find balance, and to not beat yourself up if you treat yourself every once in a while. I love following body positivity accounts that stress that eating healthy and working out is important but also that everybody is different and beautiful. I also love following registered dietitians that stress that diets will never work and that you should focus on eating whole and nutritious foods that make you feel good. 

My favorite account for this kind of positive encouragement is Break Diet Rules (@breakdietrules). She's a nutritionist who debunks fad-diets and health myths, while constantly posting safe and effective advice that actually helps. 

Dr. Mark Hyman (@Drmarkhyman) is a physician who focuses on encouraging his followers to keep it simple and just eat whole and unprocessed foods in order to heal the body. 

The health and wellness industry is flourishing on social media, and fitness influencers are taking to Instagram to share their expertise. It's really awesome that this social media app gives us access to tons of health tips and tricks right at our fingertips. 

So next time you're considering a pricey fitness app, give some fitness and foodie accounts a follow and upgrade your health for free. And if you have any favorite health and wellness Instagram accounts you follow, drop them into the comments.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.