The great British pastime. The nation’s great love for hobbies continues to flourish.

7 June 2016

Posted in Product

  • The average hobbyist spends almost an entire working day a week practising their pastimes
  • Reading is the nation’s number one hobby. Gaming and coding are now more popular than football
  • 23 per cent have been encouraged by a TV programme, with The Great British Bake Off alone inspiring 3.7 million to bake
  • Changing jobs or having a child are the most common reasons to ditch a hobby
  • AXA Insurance is encouraging the nation to live boldly and take up new hobbies

95 per cent of British adults say that they have a hobby which they spend nearly one working day a week on, research from AXA Insurance reveals. From baking and gardening, to adrenaline sports and gaming, the UK is a nation of keen hobbyists.

The study, which aims to inspire the nation to take up new and interesting pastimes, found a quarter (26 per cent) of us give more time to our hobbies than we do our social lives, whilst 1 in 12 (8 per cent) spend more time with our pastimes than we do with our partners.


From Strictly Come Dancing to The Great British Bake Off, TV programmes have inspired almost a quarter (23 per cent) of people to take up a hobby, with Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood responsible for encouraging 3.7 million people to try baking since the show began. In a similar vein, a fifth (20 per cent) of people have been motivated by a sporting event, with 12 per cent being inspired by the marathon, 10 per cent by Wimbledon and 10 per cent by the FIFA World Cup.

Top 10 TV shows that have inspired new hobbies

Top 10 sports events that have inspired new hobbies

1)     The Great British Bake Off

1)     Olympics

2)     MasterChef

2)     Marathon

3)     Come Dine with Me

3)     Wimbledon

4)     Antiques Roadshow

4)     FIFA World Cup

5)     X-Factor

5)     Tour de France

6)     Strictly Come Dancing

6)     Formula 1 Grand Prix

7)     Countryfile

7)     Tough Mudder

8)     Britain’s Got Talent

8)     Euros

9)     Saturday Kitchen

9)     The Masters

10) The Great British Sewing Bee

10) Grand National

Time and money

It’s not just time that Brits invest in their hobbies, it’s money too.  On average, each person spends £44.42 a month on their activities, with skiing/snowboarding (£81), martial arts (£77) and rugby (£77) being the most expensive hobbies. However, the real cost of hobbies often comes from the equipment. From paint brushes to bike tyres, the average hobbyist owns £302 worth of equipment, but this varies significantly, with those who enjoy activities such as cycling owning £485 worth of gear.

Saturday afternoon/evening is peak time for pastimes with a quarter (24 per cent) practicing their hobbies during this time. This is followed by a mid-week rush on Wednesday nights (22 per cent), although 43 per cent prefer to be spontaneous and admit that they have no specific routine.

Reading/book clubs and cooking/baking are the nation’s favourite pursuits, with running, gardening and board games/puzzles completing the top five. Interestingly, gaming and coding are now more popular than football (15 per cent vs. 13 per cent), highlighting just how much traditional activities are being taken over by modern alternatives.

Lost hobbies

Despite being a nation of enthusiastic hobbyists, two thirds (66 per cent) of us admit that we’ve given up at least one of our hobbies, with musical instruments taking the top spot (10 per cent). Our love affair with hobbies might last over a year (14 months) on average, but it appears that lifestyle changes (35 per cent) such as having a child or changing jobs and short attention spans (32 per cent) are the two most common reasons behind British people deciding to abandon their favourite pursuits.

Hobbies provide a great opportunity to get away from the day to day and enjoy something that we really love. With work life being ‘always on’ it’s important to take time out and experience fun, stimulating activities that help us feel less stressed and more energised. Also, the social element of a hobby introduces us to likeminded others. This sharing of interests helps create a sense of connection that is helpful psychologically, emotionally and socially.

Allowing ourselves the enjoyment of a hobby suggests we deserve 'self' time. By making time for ourselves, we are enhancing our self-value and reminding ourselves that we are entitled to such activities. Hobbies make us interesting people who are more likely to take positive risks and potentially experience greater success in general.

Emma Kenny, Psychologist and writer
Jyoti Bird from AXA Insurance

People take inspiration from all sorts of places when it comes to their hobbies, which highlights just how passionate we are as a nation at trying new things. From the Tour de France to The Great British Bake Off, watching experts and celebs clearly inspires us to try something new and expand our horizons. Most interesting is how diverse we are when it comes to our hobbies, as even though traditional hobbies like football and golf are still popular, pastimes such as gaming and coding are really making their mark.

We know that no matter who you are, you can benefit hugely from dedicating even a small amount of time to doing the things that you enjoy, which is why we’re encouraging people to live boldly and take up new and interesting activities safe in the knowledge that AXA can help protect them. In fact, we’re giving people a helping hand to get into cycling by hosting an event at cult cycling café Look mum no hands! Old Street, London on 9th July, hosted by Olympic gold medallist Philip Hindes.

Jyoti Bird, AXA Insurance

Hobby motivations

While the majority (70 per cent) of people practice hobbies for fun, the benefits stretch far beyond just enjoyment. Almost a third (30 per cent) keep hobbies for health and fitness benefits, whereas a quarter (25 per cent) do so to switch off from work. 17 per cent use hobbies to meet new people, in fact one in 10 admit they practice a hobby to give them something to talk about.

For more information about AXA Insurance’s Live Boldly campaign, and details on the Live Boldly cycling event featuring Olympic cyclist for Great Britain, Philip Hindes on 9th July, please visit:

*All figures in this press release are obtained from research commissioned by AXA of 2002 UK residents. The research was carried out by Opinium in May 2016.