With a national obsession for physical fitness and well-being, the new Weber State College Health and Physical Education Center will move local residents into the 21st century and into the age of preventive medicine, a Salt Lake broadcast journalist said Thursday.

Ed Yeates, science specialist for KSL-TV, said the combination of good health and nutrition will help people live longer and reduce their risks of an early death from diseases like heart attacks and cancer.Yeates spoke to about 100 people during the dedication of the three-story, 78,000-square-foot facility, which was completed last month at a cost of nearly $8 million. The new building features a 220-meter running track, three basketball courts, weightlifting areas, six racquetball courts, dance studio and administrative offices and conference rooms.

Calling the building unique, Yeates said, "It's extremely well built, well laid out."

Yeates said that what impressed him the most was the Human Performance Lab. "It symbolizes science at its best," he said.

WSC President Paul Thompson said the idea of building a new physical fitness center has been around for almost 25 years.

"It's an event that's been a long time coming," he said during a brief welcome address. "It will fit the needs of our students, faculty and staff."

Former WSC President Stephen D. Nadauld saluted the faculty from the Department of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance for pushing his administration into getting the funds necessary to build the new facility.

Nadauld said that he went to the State Legislature to get funding because the Swenson Gymnasium was just too small to accommodate the school's growth.

The old gym was built in 1962 for a student population of 3,500 students. Weber's current enrollment is almost 14,000.

"And so for the students, this is a marvelous addition," said Nadauld.