Gary Horton | Socialized Health Care in the SCV


It may come as a shock to some that the city of Santa Clarita provides one of the very best public health care systems in the whole world — for free, offered up to everyone. And this system is made available regardless of income, location, race, age, gender, political party or taxes paid.

Our socialized health care system may irritate the “I worked for mine so forget everyone else” crowd — and may agitate the “handouts and freebies make people weak” folks. Yet our socialized SCV public health care system makes people stronger, not weaker – healthier, not sicker – and all who use it become less a financial burden to society overall. And all this is yours for the taking, absolutely free of charge – save for the “socialized taxes” we pay to the city.

What the heck is Gary talking about?

From the city’s own website: “The city of Santa Clarita’s Neighborhood Services Department invites you to enjoy approximately 80 miles of picturesque trails and 20 miles of paseos designed for commuting and recreational use, including walking, riding, jogging and skating.

“The regional river trail serves as the backbone of the trail system. Together with connecting trails, residents can access parks, entertainment, shopping, educational institutions and employment centers.”

That’s right. All around us are miles and miles of beautiful bike, walking and jogging trails and paseos. From the south to north and east to west – our city is sewn together with beautiful and incredibly well-maintained pathways running through manicured neighborhoods and along natural riverbeds and streams.

It’s no secret that exercise is among the best medicine around. A recent Harvard and National Cancer Institute study of 650,000 of people in their 40’s detailed just how beneficial regular, stimulating exercise can be:

“Seventy-five minutes of brisk walking per week equates to an extra 1.8 years of life expectancy as opposed to staying sedentary. Increase that to 150 to 299 minutes of brisk walking per week and the gain in life expectancy goes up to 3.4 years. Make it 450 minutes per week and the estimated life expectancy jumps by 4.5 years.”

They sum things up simply: “The more you do it, the longer you live.”

But wait, there’s more: “The best results were obtained by those with normal weight who exercise. These people added 7.2 years to their life expectancy compared to people with a BMI of 35 or more (normal BMI ranges between 18.5 and 24.9) who undertook no exercise in their free time.”

Care to live seven years longer than you likely otherwise would? Get yourself moving on our SCV trail system.

Care to improve your quality of life and lessen mortality risk at every age? Get yourself moving on our trail system. Walk, jog, bike, trike, or skateboard 30 to 60 minutes every day and, plain and simple, your health will improve, and you’ll add years to your life.

No, our SCV Health Care System is not a pill. No, you don’t strap some gadget on and magically watch the pounds fall off. Rather, there’s some work on your part. But better than any pill or gadget – when you get on our public trails consistently you’ll watch your health improve before your very eyes.

I ride my bike about six days out of seven. My morning routine takes me through the heart of old Valencia, over to the riverbed running along Railroad Avenue, back behind the auto center, over by the old bridge crossing the Santa Clara River, and then back again past the mall, over Magic Mountain Parkway, and eventually back home again.

I find that the more I ride the more I enjoy it. A brisk morning ride is energizing and helps clear my mind for the day’s work ahead. There are sights and sounds and fresh air that are naturally stimulating. And, as my rides are getting longer I’ve noticed my blood pressure and heart rate are actually falling.

On any given day, one passes dozens if not hundreds of fellow SCV citizens out on the paths. Bikers of all sorts, families trekking along, some heavier folks working hard to finally set things straight. Young and old, they’re all out there. Hundreds of people covering our 80 miles of trails, improving their well-being – and scientifically adding multiple extra years to their lives.

I’m surprised there’s not more folks out there. These beautiful trails stand ready, just waiting for folks to take advantage. There’s plenty of room for everyone. You, too!

Congrats to our SCV leadership for developing such a wonderful and publicly accessible health care system. Masquerading as mere city public infrastructure, our fine public trails and paseos provide everyone some of the best medicine possible – for free!

So, get out there and start pumping your legs to take advantage of this most wonderful aspect of our beautiful city: Free socialized public health care for everyone.

Gary Horton is a Santa Clarita resident. His column, “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared on Wednesdays in The Signal since 2006. Mr. Horton is the longest regular and continuously published columnist in The Signal with over 600 columns to his credit.

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