Santa Clarita named among top 25 healthiest cities in the U.S.

Hikers make their way up a dirt road in the yet-to-be-named Newhall Pass open space after a ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday, June 15, 2017. Highway 14 is seen to the left, and Interstate 5 to the right. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Santa Clarita is among the top 25 healthiest cities to live in the United States, a recent WalletHub study found.

The personal finance website released a report, dubbed “2019’s Healthiest & Unhealthiest Cities in America,” on Monday and reported that Santa Clarita ranks 24 out of 174 cities.

“That’s what makes a good community: It’s health,” said Councilwoman Laurene Weste, who is known for her advocacy of expanding the area’s open space acreage and the construction of a crosstown trail system. “We have the ability to go out in nature and get some exercise. We are not a confined-in-concrete community.”

To identify the overall healthiest cities, the study looked at four major elements: health care, food, fitness and green space.

Santa Clarita ranked 75th under the food category, which looked at fruit and vegetable consumption, healthy restaurants and farmers markets per capita, and share of obese residents.

The fitness section studies cities’ share of adults who engage in physical activity, fitness and instruction centers per capita, the average cost of fitness-club memberships and intramural leagues per capita. Santa Clarita ranked 64.

Out of all the U.S. cities on the list, Santa Clarita scored 7th best under health care, which looks at premature-death rates, physical health, mental health counselors per capita, the cost of medical and dental visits, as well as the quality of the local public hospital system.

More closely, however, a June 2018 health profile on Santa Clarita by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, showed areas that may affect the area’s overall health state, including having a longer commute than others regionally.

“People who have long commute times have less free time to be physically active and may also experience considerable stress associated with traffic,” the study reads. To challenge issues like this, communities “can organize to create environments that promote active living and healthy eating,” something that Santa Clarita, through its trail system, fitness centers and partnerships with hospitals and health centers, has made accessible for its residents.

And perhaps not so surprising was its green space rank: 6th out of 174. This category looked into parkland acres per capita, physical activity access, the quality of parks, and the hiking, running and walking trails per capita. The city ranked 5th, having the most walking trails per capita, just ahead of cities such as San Francisco (No. 1) and Seattle (No. 4).

“Thanks to our City Council, our community has nearly 12,000 acres of preserved open space to explore, 34 beautiful parks and a full roster of classes and learning experiences to get residents active and moving,” said City Communications Manager Carrie Lujan.

These figures have proven, thus far, satisfactory among members of the community, according to the 2018 Public Opinion Poll, where 94 percent of participating residents said they were most satisfied with the city’s park and recreation facilities.

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