Difference Between Breathing and Respiration


Main Difference

The main difference between Breathing and Respiration is that Breathing is a process of inhaling and exhale, whereas Respiration is a chemical reaction to breakdown glucose.

Breathing vs. Respiration

Breathing is a physical process. Respiration is an example of the chemical process. Breathing is a voluntary reaction. Respiration is an involuntary reaction. During the breathing process, no energy produced. During respiration, energy is produced in the form of adenosine-tri-phosphate (ATP). In the breathing process, respiratory organs like lungs, nose, trachea, etc. are involved. However, in the respiration process, cells and cell-organelles are involved.

Breathing is a type of physical process and utilizes energy rather than produce. The energy that is generated by the respiration process is then utilized for different activities like sleeping, sitting, walking, running, etc. Breathing takes place outside the cell; that’s why it is also said to be an “extracellular reaction.” Respiration takes place inside the cell, known as “intracellular reaction.” Modes of breathing are different among different organisms. The process of respiration is the same in all organisms.


No enzyme requires regulating the process of breathing. A large number of enzymes are required for regulating the process of respiration. Ventilation and gaseous exchange are the stages of breathing. Glycolysis and Kreb’s cycle are the stages of respiration. Breathing is about to take in oxygen and expelling out carbon dioxide. However, the end product of respiration is carbon dioxide, water, and energy molecule.

Sometimes, breathing is also known as external respiration. Respiration is also said as internal cellular respiration. Breathing is mostly observed in animals and also in some arthropods. Respiration is observed in all living organisms present on earth. Muscles are involved in the breathing process. In the respiration, process muscles are not involved.


Comparison Chart

Inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide for gaseous exchange known as breathingRespiration is a biochemical reaction that occurs for the production of energy
Reaction Takes Place
In the lungsIn the cells
A physical and voluntary processChemical and in-voluntary process
Energy is consumedEnergy is produced
Occurs By

What is Breathing?

Breathing is a kind of biophysical reaction that is performed by our body for the inhalation of fresh air from the environment to the lungs to exhale the carbon dioxide from the lungs to the surroundings. While the process of breathing our chest or ribcage continuously contracting and expanding. During breathing, our whole muscles of the chest are involved due to which size of our diaphragm changes due to the muscle activity between the ribs. The diaphragm contains the special muscle that lies between the thoracic activity and abdominal cavity.

Mainly process of breathing has two main stages i.e., gaseous exchange and ventilation process. With the help of diaphragm, our body can pull the air inside and outside of the body. When rich oxygen pulls inside the body, the diaphragm moves slightly in the downward direction. Inhaling oxygen is then supplied with the help of the bloodstream to the cells of the whole body. When oxygen reaches the cells, the process of respiration is begun to start inside the cells. That’s how the process of breathing is also known as the ventilation process.

During the process of ventilation, lungs perform the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. When the oxygen percentage is about 20%, it is then transported to all cells of the body by to trigger respiration. Breathing is one of the important processes of all living organisms. Mammals breathe through their lungs. Fishes breathe through their gills. Breathing through the lungs is also known as pulmonary ventilation, which is regulated by the activity of the diaphragm.

What is Respiration?

The process of utilization of oxygen and glucose to produced energy ATPs molecules, water, and carbon dioxide is called a respiration process. Glucose and oxygen combine and converted into a water molecule and carbon dioxide by releasing the energy in the form of ATP. Respiration process is categorized in in-voluntary chemical reactions. The process of respiration is done by almost all cells of the body. We know that to perform every task, you need energy, and respiration is the main source of energy that occurs in all living beings.

The energy produced by the respiration process is utilized in different physical and chemical tasks. ATPs are produced continuously, which help in growth mechanism, repair or to heal damage, regulate the temperature of our body, help for movement, help digestion, etc. ATP is also known as the energy currency of living organisms. The process of respiration occurs in humans as well as in plants—consumption of ATP increases by increasing the activity. ATP is also utilizing when you do nothing.

Types of Respiration

  • Anaerobic Respiration: Such type of respiration mostly occurs in microorganisms e.g., yeast, bacteria. Both are useful for the fermentation process in making wines and other brewers. Whenever we work extremely hard and exercise due to deficiency of oxygen, our system switch to anaerobic respiration. However, the production of energy is less during anaerobic respiration rather than aerobic respiration.
  • Aerobic Respiration: Aerobic respiration mainly takes place in the cell organelle i.e., mitochondria. For aerobic respiration, oxygen is required to trigger the process of respiration.

Key Differences

  1. The main target of breathing is to gain more and more oxygen, whereas the main target of respiration is to produce more and more energy.
  2. Catalyst plays no role in the breathing process; on the other hand, catalysts play an important role in the respiration process.
  3. Breathing is happened by inspiration and expiration; conversely, respiration happens by two stages i.e., Kreb’s cycle and glycolysis.
  4. There is no generation of ATP molecules during breathing; on the flip side, ATP molecules are generating during respiration.
  5. Breathing is in our consciousness and control, while respiration is not in our consciousness and control.
  6. While breathing lungs are mainly involved in the process although, while respiration mitochondria are involved.
  7. The breathing process mostly uses ATP molecules, as compared to respiration, it produces ATP molecules.
  8. Breathing utilizes more oxygen compared to respiration.
  9. Breathing is inhaling air from the surroundings. However, respiration is the breakdown of complex substances.
  10. Breathing takes place outside the cell; on the other side, respiration takes place inside the cell.


It is concluded that breathing is the exchange of gasses, and respiration is the breakdown of the molecule.

Janet White

Janet White is a writer and blogger for Difference Wiki since 2015. She has a master's degree in science and medical journalism from Boston University. Apart from work, she enjoys exercising, reading, and spending time with her friends and family. Connect with her on Twitter @Janet__White