More active hobbies dominate internet searches in pandemic era


Man performing sport climbing under overhang. — Photo by Chris. (CC BY 2.0)

New research by firm Magazine.co.uk has revealed the most popular activities Britons choose to do to stay healthy, representing a shift that has come at the height of the pandemic of COVID-19. This applies to those residing across the UK and is based on Google searches. The data was provided to Digital diary for evaluation.

These activities are primarily hobbies, with some being considered more of an “interest” (generally, if the activity requires participation, it is considered a hobby; whereas seeking to learn more about a subject is more often classified as an “interest”).

Some of the activities include:

  • Climbing: Climbing is one of the most popular activities in the UK with a 55% growth in interest since the pandemic.
  • Roller Skating: Roller skating also grew by 55%.
  • SUP: Stand-up paddleboarding has become one of the most popular water activities with a 45% increase in the last two years.

Other hobbies that involve outdoor activity also climbed. For example, kayaking has seen huge success with searches down 123% since 2019.

These examples are just a few of the many newly researched interests. Since 2019, there has been a 48% increase in Google searches for ‘hobbies’, reaching over 1.2 million searches per month in 2022

In terms of less active hobbies, interest in trainspotting has jumped 33% since the pandemic.

The overall list of “trendy” hobbies is:

Rank Leisure VMS March 2019-Feb 2020 VMS January 2021 – December 2021 % change in monthly search volume pre-pandemic vs. now
1 Escalation 18100 40500 55%
=1 Roller 40500 90500 55%
=1 Gardening 60500 135000 55%
2 SUPPER 12100 22200 45%
=2 Angling 5400 9900 45%
=2 Golf 110000 201000 45%
=2 Pottery 22200 40500 45%
3 Cross stitch 14800 22200 33%
=3 Open water swimming 4400 6600 33%
=3 Patchwork 5400 8100 33%
=3 Sculpture 18100 27100 33%
=3 Singing 60500 90500 33%
=3 Games 33100 49500 33%
=3 Trainspotting 49500 74000 33%
=3 Pastry shop 27100 40500 33%
=3 Canoe Kayak 27100 40500 33%
=3 Fishing 27100 40500 33%
4 amateur photography 1900 2400 21%
=5 Paint 110000 135000 19%
=5 Resistance training 6600 8100 19%
=5 Rowing 6600 8100 19%

Despite these changes in search popularity, more established hobbies remain in the top 10. The most popular hobby among British subjects is drawing with an average of 246,000 Google searches per month, followed by golf with 201,000 searches.

Reading, DIY, gardening and painting are also among the most popular hobbies in the UK. The main hobbies, based on Internet activity, are:

RANK Leisure MSV January 2021-December 2021
1 Design 246000
2 Golf 201000
3 Read books 165000
=3 DIY 165000
=3 Kayak 165000
=3 Tennis 165000
4 Gardening 135000
=4 Paint 135000
5 Guitar 90500
=5 Roller 90500
=5 Functioning 90500
=5 Singing 90500
=5 Sketch 90500

There are some regional differences that become apparent when data for the twenty most populous cities are considered. Although drawing still dominates, leading searches in nine of the 20 cities analyzed, there are certain areas where golf leads (in seven cities). The favorite pastime of Londoners is kayaking, although the city is not located on the coast. Golf was preferred by the Scottish cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow.

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