Difference Between Breathing and Respiration (With Table)

Breathing and respiration are inevitable, and involuntary actions performed by all living organisms to survive. In the scientific world, breathing and respiration are two different activities that our bodies perform. Yet, in our day to day lives, we use breathing as the synonym of respiration.

This is an easy misconception due to the fact that both breathing and respiration take place due to the same organs like lungs, nose, mouth, etc. We also think they are the same as both of them are related to the use and inhalation of the oxygen in our body. In reality, they are a bit different.

Breathing vs Respiration

The main difference between breathing and respiration is their function. Breathing is the activity wherein we inhale the oxygen in and exhale the carbon dioxide out. Whereas, respiration is basically a chemical reaction. In respiration, the oxygen in the body breaks down glucose.

Glucose is then used by the cells of our body to produce energy. This energy lets us function in our daily life. Even though breathing and respiration are the activities related to the lungs, they are different. Breathing is a physical process, but respiration is a chemical process. Breathing leads to the process of respiration.

Through respiration, we can function efficiently daily. Respiration also assures that our organs are in vital condition.


Comparison Table Between Breathing and Respiration (in Tabular Form)

Parameters of comparison




Breathing involves inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide.

Respiration involves the process wherein the oxygen is used to break the glucose into energy to be later used by the cells of the body.

Used by

Breathing happens in the lungs.

Respiration takes place in the cells of the body.


Breathing is a physical process.

Respiration is basically a chemical process.


During breathing, there is no energy production.

Energy is produced during the respiration process in the form of ATP.


It is an extracellular process as it takes place outside the cells.

This is basically an intracellular process that takes place in the cells.


Not in use at the time of breathing.

Used in large numbers.


Breathing happens due to the nose, lungs, etc.

Cells, mitochondria- cell organelles carry out the process of respiration.


What is Breathing?

Breathing is the process wherein a living being exchanges gases in the environment with the cells in the body. Breathing is a physical process in which the oxygen is inhaled, and the carbon dioxide is exhaled.

The inhaling takes place due to the contraction of the muscles, and the exhaling takes place due to the relaxation of the muscle. Organs like mouth, nose, lungs, etc. assist in the process of breathing.

During the exhalation of the carbon dioxide, the diaphragm relaxes, which in turn causes the volume of the thoracic cavity to decrease.

Simultaneously, the pressure in it increases, which leads to the lungs to contract, and hence the air is forced out of the body.

On the other hand, while we inhale, the lungs contract and pull the ribcage upwards and outward.

Because of this, the lungs expand, and through the nose and mouth, we take the air in. The air then travels through the windpipe and reaches the lungs.

There are different types of breathing, which are: eupnoea, diaphragmatic, hyperpnoea, and costal breathing.

Types of Breathing

#1 Eupnoea

It is the type of breathing that is
called as slow breathing. It happens while the body is at rest.it happens

#2 Hyperpnoea

This type of breathing occurs when
there is a lack of oxygen in the body. For example, the hard labored breathing
after an intense workout session.

#3 Diaphragmatic

 This type of breathing occurs when the
diaphragm contracts. While breathing, the chest doesn’t show any action;
rather, the breathing is done by the abdomen. There is a visible activity in
the abdomen.

#4 Costal

Costal breathing is also called as the shallow breathing that needs the intercostals muscles to contract. Intercostals muscles are the muscles usually used while inhaling.

In costal breathing, the ribcage is used to both inhale as well as exhale.


What is Respiration?

Respiration is the process by which the oxygen in the body is converted to glucose, and the carbon dioxide and other gases are released from the cells and tissues.

The oxygen is used to break down glucose to produce energy.

This energy is then used by the cells and tissues of the body for the vital function of the organs and, overall, our body and its functions.

Respiration is a chemical process that occurs in the cells and mitochondria. Many enzymes are involved in the process of respiration.

The energy produced during respiration helps the cells to grow and repair it.

Main Differences Between Breathing and Respiration

  1. Breathing is the process wherein the living organism inhales oxygen and exhales carbon dioxide, whereas respiration is the process that uses oxygen to produce energy.
  2. Breathing is a physical process, but respiration is a chemical process.
  3. Breathing occurs with the help of organs like nose, mouth, lungs, etc. whereas respiration happens due to the oxygen that breaks down the glucose to produce energy.
  4. No enzymes are used while breathing, but many enzymes are used to facilitate the process of respiration.
  5. Breathing is an extracellular process because it happens outside the cells. On the other hand, the respiration is an intracellular process as it happens within the cells.
  6. Breathing takes place in the lungs, and respiration takes place in the cell.
  7. Respiration creates oxygen, carbon dioxide, and water, of which oxygen is used, and others are exhaled due to the process of breathing.



Both the breathing and respiration are interrelated. Breathing and respiration are processes that go hand in hand to facilitate body functions.

Breathing takes place for the respiration to happen, and the bi-products created by respiration are exhaled by breathing.

Hence, though they are two different activities, they are both essential for the survival of any living organism.



  1. https://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/369474
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1526590012006530
  3. https://www.physiology.org/doi/pdf/10.1152/jappl.1950.2.11.592