June is Men’s Health Month

Men’s Health Month was created to increase awareness of men’s health issues and highlight ways to improve their health overall. Did you know that on average, men die 5 years younger than women? As if that wasn’t enough, men are also less likely to have health insurance or go to the doctor for preventive care or treatment. Thankfully, there are some things men can do to live a long, healthy life.

Schedule an annual physical exam

There’s a reason physical exams are also called annuals – because you should have an exam once per year. Annual physicals are almost always covered by insurance, help to establish a baseline which is crucial for catching problems before they start or are more easily treated and help to maintain long-term health. Your annual exam might include screenings and the following are recommended for men.

Recommended health screenings for men

  • Cholesterol test: Start getting cholesterol tests every 5 years between the ages of 20–45, then every 1 or 2 years after age 45, and earlier if you have a genetic predisposition to diabetes or heart disease.
  • Diabetes screening: Studies show that men get type 2 diabetes more easily than women, so your doctor should check for diabetes starting at age 45, and earlier if you’re predisposed to the disease.
  • Depression screening: 9% of men in the United States have daily feelings of depression or anxiety, but only 1 in 3 take medication, and only 1 in 4 visit a mental health professional. A depression screening at your annual can help identify symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  • Blood pressure test: High blood pressure can be a silent killer, wreaking havoc on your arteries, heart, kidneys, and even eyes and brain. Monitoring your blood pressure annually is critical to keeping you healthy.

Cancer screenings for men

  • Prostate cancer screening: Screenings should start at age 50, but could start at age 40 or earlier if you have prostate cancer in your family history.
  • Testicular exam: While men should start monthly testicular self-exams at age 15, your doctor should do a testicular exam during every annual visit.
  • Colorectal cancer test: Colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in the United States, with 1 in 24 men developing colon cancer over the course of their lifetime. Routine colon cancer screenings, like colonoscopies, help to find polyps before they become cancerous. You should get your first colonoscopy at 50, earlier if you have a family history of colon cancer.

Get regular exercise

Exercise is essential to a long, healthy life. For one thing, exercise releases endorphins, which can help  fight stress, depression, and anxiety. It is no secret that regular exercise helps manage weight, which safeguards against developing diabetes. Exercise also helps to manage cholesterol, which is an important way to protect against heart disease, the leading cause of death for men in the United States. You should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate to high intensity aerobic activity each week and a muscle strengthening activity at least twice per week.

Don’t ignore warning signs

Nearly 66% of men say they avoid going to the doctor as long as possible. Heck, 72% of men say they’d rather clean a toilet than see a doctor! This avoidance can be dangerous as the routine screenings done at physical exams often catch problems before they become life threatening.

For example, if you are experiencing excessive sweating, shortness of breath, or bouts of chest pain, these could be signs of serious health problems that your doctor can help you manage.

If you want to know more about cholesterol, read What You Need to Know About Cholesterol on the Optum Perks Blog. Visit Optum Perks for discounts and information about specific drugs that help manage cholesterol, blood pressure, and more.