An estimated 189 million people will tune into Super Bowl 50 this Sunday. While the event's a great excuse to get together and eat all of the food, a whole other tradition may help you and your friends fare better when it comes to happiness and health.
This year, trade in the pigskin for some puppy fur. No, not in a sadistic way -- we're just saying you should be watching the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet at 3 p.m. Sunday instead of the Super Bowl. You'll reap all of the benefits of a social activity without any of the bad stuff that taints the other big game.
Need a little convincing? Below, we've outlined 12 reasons why watching the Puppy Bowl is the right thing to do:
1. You'll feel instant happiness.
Spending time with animals is shown to boost human's happiness and health, and just petting a furry friend can reduce stress levels. Even if you don't have a pooch to cuddle up to, just looking at cute animals can improve your mood and even better your focus. The Puppy Bowl is obviously the next best thing to having a pet at home.
2. You'll have more time for healthier activities.
You'll need two hours to watch the Puppy Bowl in its entirety. The Super Bowl, on the other hand, will have you glued to the tube for about four hours. All of that sitting (and that many hours of constant snacking) isn't good for your body or your brain. Why not play fetch outside with your dog instead?
3. You'll be able to go to bed on time.
The average Super Bowl game ends around 10:15 p.m. eastern time (not counting the post-game coverage), likely forcing you to start your pre-bedtime rituals later in the night and stealing away extra sleep before you start the work week. That could throw off your whole week. There's no late night with the Puppy Bowl, which ends at a solid 5 p.m. EST.
4. You won't be cheering on injuries or concussions.
Tail wags, squeaky barks and, fine, a little nibbling are the only risk factors here.
5. You and your friends will be on the same team.
6. You can adopt a player.
Animal Planet coordinated with more than 40 animal shelters and rescue organizations across the country to make up this year's two Puppy Bowl teams. So in essence, you're making the world a better place by watching this beloved "sporting" event (and, bonus, research shows you're also boosting your own well-being through such an act of kindness). Could you say the same for football?
7. And you can still catch Beyonce.
As mentioned above, the Puppy Bowl will be over in time for the Super Bowl halftime show (and isn't that the best part of the Super Bowl, anyway?). Studies show that listening to upbeat music can put you in a happier mood, so combine halftime with the joyful boost you'll get from the puppies and you'll really be peppy. Also, Beyoncé.
8. You can pun up a storm without judgment.
Line barkers? Rufferee!? What a gas! Puns are inherently hilarious, and laughter is proven to decrease those pesky stress hormones and can even boost your immune system, keeping you healthy all winter long.
9. A bird is covering the event.
@Meepthebird is the official live-tweeter of the pawsome show. Can't say any human sports announcer has ever been as entertaining as this little fella.
10. You might avoid the flu.
Seriously. A recent study found that Super Bowl parties up the likelihood that you'll catch the flu. It's not surprising if you think about it: Mass amounts of people, communal bowls of chips, and lots of drinking. Pass. We're not saying not to serve snacks at your Puppy Bowl viewing, but chances are you'll be too distracted by the cuteness to share as many germs.
11. All of the players are guaranteed eye candy.
Um, just look at that face.
12. You might reduce your chances for heart attack.
Research shows that die-hard sports fans are at higher risk for heart attack. Unless you're an aggressively staunch supporter of Wrinkles the shar-pei and have an emotional investment in his success on the field, you likely won't have a health issue watching the Puppy Bowl.
The bottom line?
Football may be America's pastime, but you certainly can't beat a man's best friend.