Difference Between Breathing and Respiration (With Table)

Breathing vs Respiration

Oxygen plays a critical role in the survival of the world. Without it, there would be no concept of life on earth. All the living things need oxygen to live.

You might have heard the terms of breathing and respiration. People might have used it alternatively many times while talking.

People often confuse the terms ‘breathing’ and ‘respiration’. It is crucial to know the difference between them as these terms have a strong connection with the human body.

The main difference between breathing and respiration is that breathing is a physical process while respiration is a chemical process.

Breathing involves inhaling air from your nose and exhaling out air from your lungs. Respiration involves inhaling oxygen that is carried in your blood to the cells in your body and as a result, you exhale carbon dioxide.

The other salient features that differentiate between breathing and respiration are given in the comparison table below.

Parameter of ComparisonBreathingRespiration
DefinitionA process that involves inhaling air and exhaling out air.A process that involves inhaling oxygen providing energy to the cells and releasing carbon dioxide.
Type of ProcessPhysical processChemical process
EnergyNo energy producedEnergy produced
OrganBreathing occurs in the lungs.Respiration occurs in cells.
EnzymesNo enzymes used.A large number of enzymes used.


What is Breathing?

Breathing is the process of inhaling air through nose or mouth and exhaling out air. This process involves muscle contraction and muscle relaxation.

We breathe through the lungs. Lungs are one of the primary organs of the human body. The process of breathing is divided into two key stages: Inhalation and Exhalation.

In Inhalation, the diaphragm is contracted, the rib muscles contract and decrease the pressure inside the human body. This lets air inside the body.

In Exhalation, the diaphragm is relaxed, the rib muscles relax and the pressure increases. This lets out air from the body.

Breathing is a physical process. It just refers to the movement of air and our muscles. No energy is produced during this process and so no enzymes are used during this process.

The fine hair that is present in our nostrils helps to block the dust particles from entering into our longs. That is why there might be the presence of mucus in your nostrils which is the result of dust particles trapped in fine hair.

The process of breathing is also called ‘ventilation’. Sometimes, people do not breathe properly which in turn does not carry enough air into the system.

This causes anxiety and stress. To overcome this problem, there are some deep breathing techniques that you can do and release the stress.

It is often advised to eat healthy food including fruits and vegetables and also include exercise in your life so you do not have to face any breathing problems.

Breathing 2

What is Respiration?

Respiration is a biochemical process in which you inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. It is a metabolic process.

The oxygen we inhale is carried by our blood to all the cells of our body. This results in breaking down glucose and producing energy that is then used by our cells to perform the daily tasks of life.

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 All the organisms whether it is a bacteria or a blue whale, all undergo this process called respiration. There are two types of respiration:

  1. Aerobic respiration
  2. Anaerobic respiration

Aerobic respiration takes place in the presence of oxygen while anaerobic respiration takes place in the absence of oxygen.

In prokaryotes, respiration takes place around the plasma membrane while in eukaryotic cells; respiration takes place in the powerhouse of cells called mitochondria.

There are three stages in the respiration process:

  1. Glycolysis
  2. Krebs cycle
  3. Electron Transport Chain

In glycolysis, the glucose molecule is split into two molecules of pyruvate. The energy that is released during the process of respiration is referred to as ATP.

In the Krebs cycle, the pyruvate molecules further make more molecules of ATP. Finally, in the last stage, hydrogen molecules are pumped into mitochondria.

The electrons that are released mix with hydrogen and oxygen to make water. This eventually stops the pumping of hydrogen. The hydrogen goes back to mitochondria and ATP is made.

Due to the rise in pollution over the past years, there has been a tremendous increase in respiratory illnesses. The most common are lung cancer, asthma, bronchitis, and pneumonia.

Other than pollution, the other number one reason for lung illness is smoking. Many people have lost their lives due to tobacco use.

Most of the ingredients found in tobacco have been claimed to be carcinogens i.e. they cause cancer. So, it is advised to stay away from smoking and harsh chemicals.


Main Differences Between Breathing and Respiration

Some distinct features differentiate between breathing and respiration:

  1. Breathing is a process that involves inhaling and exhaling oxygen while respiration is a process that involves inhaling oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide.
  2. Breathing is a physical process while respiration is a chemical process.
  3. No energy is produced during breathing while energy is produced during respiration.
  4. Breathing occurs in the lungs while respiration occurs in cells.
  5. No enzymes needed in breathing whereas a large number of enzymes needed in respiration.



Breathing vs Respiration


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Some major knowledge about the human body is critical for the survival of human beings. This is how we can diagnose the early stages of the disease and also help others.

Those who are privileged to acquire education know well about respiration. Most common diseases do impact the lungs and cause shortness of breath. With the right information, one can stop the further spread of the disease.

Recently, a new disease called COVID-19 also affects the lungs. One of the major symptoms includes breathing problems.

Though biologists and scientists are trying to find a cure, we must take precautionary measures to take care of our health.

We need to take proper diet and do regular exercise to keep our lungs healthy and also stay away from smoking at all costs.


Word Cloud for Difference Between Breathing and Respiration

The following is a collection of the most used terms in this article on Breathing and Respiration. This should help in recalling related terms as used in this article at a later stage for you.

Difference Between Breathing and Respiration
Word Cloud for Breathing and Respiration



  1. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/anatomyvideos/000018.htm
  2. https://study.com/academy/lesson/what-is-respiration-definition-process-equation.html
  3. https://www.unitypoint.org/homecare/article.aspx?id=2448b930-1451-43e4-8634-c0c16707c749

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