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… And almost 60 per cent of Brits have started a new hobby or added a skill in the past 18 months

  • 59 per cent of Brits have learnt a new skill in the past 18 months (since the first UK lockdown)
  • More than a third regret not getting fitter while spending more time at home 
  • 44 per cent turned to the internet to kick start their new hobby

New figures show that nearly six of out ten UK adults took up a new hobby or learnt an additional skill during the pandemic.

The most popular new thing learnt in the past 18 months is baking and cooking, with just under a quarter of people pulling out their pinny to get cooking and baking for the first time.

15 per cent of people started gaming, a similar number to those who introduced a new talent in arts and crafts. One in 10 began learning a new language.

The research was carried out by broadband provider Zen Internet (in August 2021) to explore what impact the internet has had on what we learnt in lockdown, surveying 2,149 people.

44 per cent of people used the internet to develop their new skills and hobbies, with 16 per cent taking online exercise classes, 14 per cent accessing online tutorials and 12 per cent taking online language courses.

Despite a rise of 16 per cent in online classes for exercise, and 12 per cent of people learning a new sport or type of exercise, just over a third of the UK claims to now regret not getting fitter during their time in lockdown.

Steve Warburton from Zen.co.uk said: “The survey has shown that despite the physical restrictions, access to learning online and web-based tutorials sparked new hobbies and interests across the UK.  

“More than half of the people questioned were in fact satisfied with how they had used their time in the past year or so to add new strings to their bow.   

“Most people looked for activities that would boost their mental or physical health, and overall wellbeing was a key factor in why so many people turned to the internet to teach themselves something new.

“These latest figures show just how much reliable access to the internet can do – with a previous Zen study showing that we actually spent more time with family and friends via get-togethers over the internet, compared to the amount of time spent with them face-to-face before the pandemic.

“Even after a year in lockdown we saw how much our internet habits had changed, with internet usage increasing 78% year on year (March 2021). The explosive growth of gaming during the pandemic has also highlighted how many have found a new outlet for much-needed connection in isolation. The Xbox launch on 10th October 2020 saw an 11% rise in traffic across the network.

“We hope this trend in learning new skills and hobbies continues as a means of bettering ourselves and boosting wellbeing. We may even see the new Masterchef or Bake Off winner as a result of online learning during the lockdowns.”

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