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

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.

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