The numbers underscore the need for Men’s Health Month and the spotlight it shines on preventable health problems and the importance of early detection all June long.
According to the nonprofit Men’s Health Network: “On average, men die five years younger than women, and die at higher rates from nine of the Top 10 causes of death. Men are also less likely than women to be insured.”
It’s not all bleak though. A recent Men’s Health Network survey found that 90 percent of men in the U.S. want to take charge of their own health.
Here are three straightforward ways to get started.
1. Don’t skip your annual exam
Even if you aren’t sick, you should still see your primary care physician once a year. Annual wellness visits are chance to huddle with your doctor and review family history, chronic medical and surgical conditions and current prescription and nonprescription medications, including vitamins, herbal remedies and other supplements.
Routine preventive care, including annual wellness visits, screenings, immunizations and counseling, are generally 100% covered by most Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE) health plans. Review your benefits and check with your doctor’s office about setting up your appointments. Learn more about BCBSNE’s approach to preventive care.
Although, you don’t necessarily need to trek to the office to see your doctor. Telehealth – a live, virtual doctor’s visit – is an option that patients and providers have adopted at historic rates since the onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
2. Schedule your screenings
Talk to your doctor about which of these screenings are appropriate for you and how frequently you should be screened:
- Blood pressure check
- Tuberculosis skin test
- Blood tests and urinalysis, which screen for illnesses and diseases
- EKG to check for heart abnormalities
- Tetanus booster to prevent lockjaw
- Rectal exam to check for lower rectal problems and colon or prostate cancer
- Colorectal health exam (colonoscopy, hemoccult, sigmoidoscopy or Cologuard) to check for colon cancer
- Chest CT scan (for smokers) to check for lung cancer
- Bone density test
Download a chart of recommended screenings at www.healthfinder.gov.
3. Amp up the exercise
A recent Blue Cross Blue Shield The Health of America report strengthens the already powerful case for regular exercise, linking it to improved overall health; reduced chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and major depression; and potential healthcare cost savings of more than $4,400 over a four-year span.
Current government guidelines call for at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity physical activity each week. That may sound daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Brisk walking counts, as do activities like yard work and active chores around the house.
The third week in June is Men’s Health Week. Everyone is encouraged to show their support for the men in their lives by wearing something blue on June 19, the Friday before Father’s Day. Read more about the Men’s Health Network’s Wear Blue initiative, encouraging businesses and organizations to host a Wear Blue Day to raise awareness about health issues affecting men.