Ron Swanson was a fan favorite. But this actor didn't know the half of how he was helping people.

Is laughter really the best medicine?

For seven seasons, Nick Offerman made millions of people laugh with his now iconic "Parks and Recreation" character Ron Swanson.

Fans of all stripes found an unexpected hero and a reliable chuckle in the waterfall of testosterone that was Swanson.


GIF from "Parks and Recreation" via Time magazine.

Since the series ended, Offerman has received an outpouring of appreciation. But it's messages like the ones he describes below that really remind him why he loves making people laugh.

GIF set by Time magazine. Watch the interview.

So is laughter really the best medicine?

Time magazine's Markham Heid interviewed Dr. Lee Burk who studies the health impacts of laughter. He notes the role of stress in all sorts of health problems and points out that "laughter appears to cause all the reciprocal, or opposite, effects of stress."

GIF from "Parks and Recreation."

Dr. Burk says laughter can enhance your blood flow, strengthen your immune system, and even improve the communication between your brain cells. The Mayo Clinic adds that a hearty giggle can ease pain, enhance mood, and even strengthen our connections to other people, which makes some researchers wonder whether laughter really is the best medicine.

Heid also spoke with Dr. Robert Provine, a neuroscientist who says, "One of the challenges of studying laughter is that there are so many things that trigger it" — things like being around people we're more likely to laugh with. "That doesn't mean the benefits aren't real," says Provine, "but it may not be accurate to credit laughter alone with all these superpowers."

OK, so we may still have a lot to learn about the science of laughter, but even Dr. Provine thinks we should keep it up:

"When we laugh, we're in a happy place. That's always a good thing."

Cheers to that, doc.

With that, here's one last tip: Nick Offerman may be this awesome and caring dude who doles out a "medicine" of sorts with comedy, but be careful taking health advice from Ron Swanson.

GIF from "Parks and Recreation" via Time magazine.

More

Mom and blogger Mary Katherine Backstrom regularly shares snippets of life with her two children on her Facebook page. One particularly touching interaction with her daughter is melting hearts and blowing minds due to the three-year-old's wise words about forgiveness.

Even adults struggle with the concept of forgiveness. Entire books have been written about how and why to forgive those who have wronged us, but many still have a hard time getting it. Who would guess that a preschooler could encapsulate what forgiveness means in a handful of innocent words?

Keep Reading Show less
Family

California has a housing crisis. Rent is so astronomical, one San Francisco company is offering bunk bedsfor $1,200 a month; Google even pledged$1 billion to help tackle the issue in the Bay Area. But the person who might fix it for good? Kanye West.

The music mogul first announced his plan to build low-income housing on Twitter late last year.

"We're starting a Yeezy architecture arm called Yeezy home. We're looking for architects and industrial designers who want to make the world better," West tweeted.

Keep Reading Show less
Cities

The U.S. women's soccer team won the Women's World Cup, but the victory is marred by the fact that the team is currently fighting for equal pay. In soccer, the game is won by scoring points, but the fight for equal pay isn't as clearly winnable and the playing field isn't as even.

We live in a world where winning the World Cup is easier than winning equal pay, but co-captain Megan Rapinoe says there's one easy way fans can support the team: Go see games.

Some people argue the men's team deserves to get paid more because they are more successful and earn more money for the United States Soccer Federation. Pay depends on merchandise and ticket sales, and in general, men's sporting events tend to draw a bigger crowd than women's sporting events. It's not about sex, many argue; it's about the fact that people just prefer to see men play.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

You think you know someone pretty well when you spend years with them, but, as we've seen time and again, that's not always the case. And though many relationships don't get to a point where the producers of "Who the (Bleep) Did I Marry?" start calling every day just to chat, the reality is that sometimes partners will reveal shocking things even after you thought you'd been all shocked out.

That's the case for one woman whose Reddit thread has recently gone viral. The 25-year-old, who's been with her boyfriend for five years, took to a forum for relationship advice to ask if it was normal that her seemingly cool and loving boyfriend recently revealed women shouldn't have a fundamental right. (And no, it's not abortion — although there are a lot of "otherwise best ever boyfriends" out there who want to deny women the rights to bodily autonomy, too.)

Keep Reading Show less
Recommended