7 Great Difference between Breathing and Respiration with Comparison Table

What is the difference between breathing and respiration?

All living things cannot survive without breathing and respiration. These two terms tend to appear similar but they are not synonymous.

The lesson provides information on the differences between breathing and respiration to shade out the light. This will help to get rid of the confusion caused by these two scientific terms.

Our team has provided the difference between breathing and respiration in points for easier understanding.

Difference between Breathing and Respiration

What Is Breathing?

Breathing is the physical process of inhalation and exhalation. The process helps to remove carbon dioxide from the lungs to facilitate gaseous exchange within the environment.

Both exhalation and inhalation take place when the ribcage contract or relax. The diaphragm is responsible for pulling fresh air into the body rich in oxygen when it is pulled downward.

This mechanical process of taking in and out air from the lungs is also known as ventilation. The process entails two stages when it takes place.

Note: Read the article about the differences between inhalation and exhalation for deeper insight into the breathing process.

What Is Respiration?

Respiration is a biochemical action where the body breakdown glucose to provide energy to be used by the body.

Some of the common products of respiration are carbon dioxide, water, and energy in form of ATP. The reaction occurs both in plants and animals.

Aerobic and anaerobic are the main two types of respiration. Aerobic respiration requires glucose and oxygen to produce water, carbon dioxide, and release energy. It occurs in mitochondria.

On the other hand, anaerobic respiration does not require oxygen to breakdown glucose. It releases lactic acid and a small amount of energy.

The lactic acid produced during anaerobic respiration is responsible for tiredness and muscle cramping as well as pain.

Note: You can read our article about the differences between aerobic respiration and anaerobic respiration for deeper insight.

Comparison Chart: Breathing vs Respiration 

Basic Terms Breathing Process Respiration Process
Definition Is the process of inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide by the lungs Is the process where glucose is broken down to release energy to be used by the body
Type of Process It is a voluntary mechanical process and happens by Glycolysis and Krebs cycle. It is an involuntary process and it happens by inspiration and expiration
Place of Occurrence Lungs Body cells
Energy Release No energy production The energy produced in the form of ATP.
How It Place Extracellular Intracellular
Enzymes No enzyme used Enzymes are quite vital
Take Place through Respiratory organs such as nose and lungs Body cells especially mitochondria organelles.

Core Differences

  1. Breathing is a mechanical process that is voluntary and it enhances inhalation of oxygen and exhalation of carbon dioxide in the lungs. Respiration is a biochemical process that is involuntary to breakdown glucose to release energy.
  2. Breathing occurs in two stages such as Glycolysis and Krebs cycle while respiration happens by inspiration and expiration.
  3. The breathing process results in no energy production while respiration results in the production of energy to be used by body cells.
  4. Breathing is regarded as an extracellular process since it occurs outside the cells while respiration is an intracellular process that takes place within the cell.
  5. Respiration requires many enzymes to take place while breathing does not require any enzymes or catalysts.
  6. Breathing takes place via respiratory organs like the nose and lungs while respiration occurs in the body cell of an organism.

Similarities Between Breathing and Respiration

  1. Both provide oxygen molecules
  2. Both involve energy 
  3. Both follow certain stages 
  4. Both occur in living things 

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Comparison Video


Therefore, you should note that respiration and breathing are not synonymous with each other. However, they are quite vital to all living organisms.

Use the information provided in the lesson to note the 10 differences between breathing and respiration. Also, the core difference between breathing and respiration in table form.

More Sources and References

Respiratory System. Khan Academy 

Breathing. Wikipedia


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