How lockdown lifestyles have changed people’s habits | Sunday Observer

How lockdown lifestyles have changed people’s habits

14 August, 2022

People exercise and socialise more and have found extra time to do housework and gardening as they work from home and commute less, official data show

The average adult Brit now spends an extra 6 minutes exercising and 30min more having fun than in 2014/15

Data from the Office of National Statistics now shows how people’s daily habits changed since the lockdowns

Brits have made more time for gardening and cleaning by slashing the daily commute and ditching the office

Women are making ground in the battle of the sexes, with men taking on more chores and childcare duties.

People are exercising and socialising more than they did before the pandemic, according to new official figures that reveal the changing habits of Britons after lockdown.

As more people continue to work from home and cut out the daily commute, they’ve also found more time for gardening, DIY and housework.

But questions about productivity remain, as time spent watching TV, reading books and playing video games is up while studying is down.

The way people use their time each day has been studied since 2014/15 in the UK by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), with the latest figures up to March 2022, when most Covid restrictions were lifted.

The average Briton now spends 25 minutes per day keeping fit, six minutes more than in 2014/15. More people took up exercise to fight boredom during lockdown.

There was also thought to have been a renewed interest in physical health during the pandemic.

People now spend about five hours per day entertaining themselves — which includes spending time with friends or family, browsing the internet and texting — 17 minutes more than in 2014/15.

Britons have also found an extra three minutes to spend on gardening each day in that time, with the average person doing about 20 minutes per day now.

Housework also got a time boost from 2014/15, with the average person now dedicating two-and-half hours per day to chores like food shopping and walking the dog, an extra three minutes compared to pre-pandemic.

Britons appear to have crawled back the time by cutting out commuting and ditching the office in favour of working from home.

In 2014/15 the average person spent one hour and 23 minutes each day on travelling and transport. But in March 2022, this dropped to just 51 minutes, giving Britons an extra half-an-hour to spend on other activities.

Time spent working from home has more than quadrupled in 2022 compared to 2014/15.

The most recent ONS study asked about 2,000 Britons over the age of 18 to fill out a time-use diary recording how many minutes they spend on a variety of activities on a weekday and a weekend.

There has also been a change between the sexes, with men increasingly picking up their fair share of the housework and childcare.

Women still perform the majority of household work, spending almost three hours cleaning, and 30 minutes on unpaid childcare per day in March 2022. In comparison, men only spent two hours on cleaning and 20 minutes looking after children.

While the gender disparity still exists, it has shrunk compared to 2014/15, when women spent an extra 94 minutes cleaning and 28 minutes on childcare than their male counterparts.

The ONS data suggests the pandemic has also changed how families interact.

It found people aged 60 and over now spend 55 per cent less time, eight minutes less per day, looking after children in March 2022 compared to 2014/15.

The over 60s are instead spending an extra 10 minutes keeping fit, an extra seven minutes gardening, and an extra 28 minutes socialising or entertaining themselves.

Since 2020 the ONS has tracked how much TV Britons watch and found that in March 2022 time viewing levels were at their lowest since the start of the pandemic, at just 149 minutes per day.

During the initial months of lockdown, Britons spent about 183 minutes per day watching TV or streaming services like Netflix.

Even though exercise is up compared to 2014, it is still lower than the height of the pandemic.

Time spent on exercise peaked in March 2021 at 30 minutes per day, the highest figure five minutes more than this year’s figure.

There were a number of lockdown inspired fitness challenges, such as PE with Joe Wicks, aiming to keep families fit in lockdown when outdoor exercise options were limited,

In its data, the ONS highlighted that the changes between the reports could also be due to general societal changes since 2014/15, not just the impact of the pandemic.