Top 40 hobbies to boost mental health and wellbeing in lockdown

More than eight in 10 adults have taken up a new hobby during lockdown to boost their mental or physical health, with walking, reading and exercising the most popular pastimes.

A study of 2,000 adults found more than a third have taken up a new activity since the start of the pandemic, with 81% choosing one with some form of mindfulness to help keep them calm.

And 75% want any hobby to involve some exercise.

It also emerged 82% chose a hobby because it was good for their wellbeing, with gardening, cooking and baking also popular.

Growing fruit and vegetables were also among the top 40 hobbies people have chosen because they have a positive impact on their health.

Other factors which impact the choice of activity include the cost (55%), how easy it is to get started (54%) and skills which can be learnt as a result (37%).

Sarah Dixon, from Hozelock which commissioned the study, said:

“Many of us have had more time on our hands during the past 12 months, so it is only normal that we are filling this time trying out new hobbies and interests. With so much uncertainty in the year, it is great to see that people are choosing activities which will improve their mental health and provide some structure to their day and weekends.

“Gardening is one such hobby, not only is it accessible for everyone but it is always incredibly rewarding to watch plants grow.”

The study also found 77% agreed it’s been important to keep their mind busy since spending more time at home in the past year.

74% felt hobbies have given them something to concentrate on, while 63% credited the activities with helping them to stick to a routine while at home.

Of the 35% who have taken up a new hobby during lockdown, 23% did so in order to improve their home or garden, 42% to fill spare time and 29% to avoid thinking about the pandemic.

The weather (24%), friends (23%) and TV shows (16%) have also inspired people to take up new past times.

More than half of adults count gardening as a hobby, with 70% spending more time sprucing up their outdoor space during the lockdown than ever before.

Green-fingered adults enjoy the physical benefit without feeling like they’re exercising (54%), seeing their achievements such as plants growing (50%) and creating a calming, inviting space (46%).

And while 35% of those polled via OnePoll opt to garden on their own, 46% do so with their partner and 18% with their child.

It also emerged that during the average week, people typically spend two hours and 14 minutes on exercise-based activities, an hour and 13 minutes baking and 1 hour and 28 minutes gardening.

Emily Butt, Founder of the not-for-profit organisation Garden to Wellbeing added:

“Having experienced first-hand the range of benefits that nature has on both our physical and mental wellbeing, I’m delighted that more people are enjoying gardening as a fun and therapeutic hobby. Gardening not only improves physical health, it can also reduce levels of stress and anxiety and increase confidence. With ongoing support from organisations such as Hozelock, including generous product donations, Garden to Wellbeing helps connect people with nature through workshops and ongoing programmes, giving everyone the opportunity to benefit from gardening”