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Difference Between Breathing and Respiration

diaphragmatic_breathingBoth breathing and respiration are required for all living organisms. Generally, breathing and respiration are often considered the same.  However, there is a great difference between these two words.

Breathing is a constant process where you breathe in and out constantly through out the day. It is a process of taking in oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide.

Respiration is a process where the body breaks down the oxygen, so that the cells in the body can use it. It is a part of  metabolic process also known as catabolic process of a cellular activity where energy molecule  is released while carbon dioxide and water are produced.

Breathing is a physical process and respiration is a chemical process. Breathing is a process of taking oxygen into the lungs while respiration is taking the oxygen from the lungs into the blood stream or to the cells.

Breathing is an exchange of gases between cells and the external environment whereas respiration is a process that takes place in the cells. Breathing involves two stages — ventilation and gas exchange. Ventilation is the movement of air in and out of lungs and gas exchange is the absorption of oxygen from the lungs and release of carbon dioxide.  Respiration involves only one process that produces energy and eliminates carbon dioxide and H2O in the blood stream or cells.

In terms of the action, breathing is a voluntary action and respiration is an involuntary action.  Respiration is an active and mechanical process that involves the conversion of chemical energy into other forms of energy and breathing has no action or conversion involved.

Breathing can be controlled whereas respiration cannot be controlled. For instance, one can able take a deep and shallow or fast and slow breaths. Since respiration takes places in the cells and tissues, it cannot be controlled like breathing.

Though breathing and respiration are two different processes, these two words are being used interchangeably by many people. When a person is given oxygen artificially, it refers to ‘artificial breathing’ not ‘artificial respiration’. Breathing is sometimes called as ‘external respiration’ and respiration is referred to as internal or cellular respiration.


Breathing: taking air in (inspiration) and out of your lungs (expiration); can be consciously controlled (voluntary action)

Respiration:  part of a metabolic process; cellular activity;  end products are energy molecules, carbon dioxide and water; cannot be consciously controlled (involuntary action)

book-iconBooks related to respiration and breathing.

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  1. Potatos make your lungs 200 x more efficient

  2. i like this article when i was reading these two topics from text book a question was irritating again and again in my mind when i search there difference this article has finally clear my concept

  3. i understood thankyou very much

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  5. Nice Work ..Solved my problem 🙂

  6. Good explanation

  7. Eloquent explanation,tnx

  8. Well, breathing is also an involuntary process. You still breathe when you sleep, right?

  9. Understood… … a little bit. Could you simplify it for me? And not in such a scientific manner? If you can’t then it’s alright

  10. than u for solving my probleam

  11. this site is the best, i now clearly understands whats the difference :)) keep up the good work and helps a lot, recommended

  12. What good differences really needed them for my school project of Grade 7. thankssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss

  13. I have a test on urinary and respiratory system tomorrow, so this helped a lot.

  14. It’s the best site i have ever seen.It helped me a lot in my project.

  15. I love this website

  16. Full of concept with no doubts…I really got the basic difference which i couldn’t find like this in my textbook …thnx web

  17. helped me a lot…

  18. Thanks 4the help

  19. We explained, really!!! Very helpful!

  20. Nice one … and very informative

  21. thank you! I think I understand the deference between them now! Great article it is!

  22. Excellent solved my problem

  23. This article is really resourceful. I was trying to understand the basic difference between breathing and respiration for a blog I am writing for our medical equipment website.

    I am sure I am gonna refer this website more frequently for my future projects also. Great! Good work team!

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