In physiology, respiration (often confused with breathing) is defined as the transport of oxygen from the outside air to the cells within tissues, and the transport of carbon dioxide in the opposite direction. This is in contrast to the biochemical definition of respiration, which refers to cellular respiration: the metabolic process by which an organism obtains energy by reacting oxygen with glucose to give water, carbon dioxide and ATP (energy). Although physiologic respiration is necessary to sustain cellular respiration and thus life in animals, the processes are distinct: cellular respiration takes place in individual cells of the organism, while physiologic respiration concerns the bulk flow and transport of metabolites between the organism and the external environment.
Complex multicellular animals such as humans have a much greater distance between the environment and their innermost cells, thus, a respiratory system is needed for effective gas exchange. The respiratory system works in concert with a circulatory system to carry gases to and from the tissues
(ml O2/min per 100g)
|Heart (heavy exercise)||70|
|Resting skeletal muscle||1|
|Contracting skeletal muscle||50|
In air-breathing vertebrates such as humans, respiration of oxygen includes four stages:
- Ventilation, moving of the ambient air into and out of the alveoli of the lungs.
- Pulmonary gas exchange, exchange of gases between the alveoli and the pulmonary capillaries.
- Gas transport, movement of gases within the pulmonary capillaries through the circulation to the peripheral capillaries in the organs, and then a movement of gases back to the lungs along the same circulatory route.
- Peripheral gas exchange, exchange of gases between the tissue capillaries and the tissues or organs, impacting the cells composing these and mitochondria within the cells.
Note that ventilation and gas transport require energy to power a mechanical pump (the heart) and the muscles of respiration, mainly the diaphragm. In heavy breathing, energy is also required to power additional respiratory muscles such as the intercostal muscles. The energy requirement for ventilation and gas transport is in contrast to the passive diffusion taking place in the gas exchange steps.
Respiratory behavior is correlated to the cardiovascular behavior to control the gaseous exchange between cells and blood. Both behaviors are intensified by exercise of the body. However, respiratory is voluntary compared to cardiovascular activity which is involuntary.
The Phenotype microarray technology is based on measuring the respiration of cells over time.
Classifications of respiration 
There are several ways to classify the physiology of respiration:
By species 
By mechanism 
By experiments 
- Severe acute respiratory syndrome
- Pulmonary aspiration - Pulmonary edema
By intensive care and emergency medicine 
- Mechanical ventilation
- Iron lung
- Intensive care medicine
- Liquid breathing
- Oxygen toxicity
- Medical ventilator
- Life support
- General anaesthesia
By other medical topics 
- Respiratory therapy
- Breathing gases
- Hyperbaric oxygen therapy
- Gas embolism
- Decompression sickness
- Oxygen toxicity
- Nitrogen narcosis
- Carbon dioxide poisoning
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Salt water aspiration syndrome
See also 
- Nelsons VCE Units 1-2 Physical Education. 2010 Cengage Copyright.
Further reading 
- Nilsson, Goran E. (2010). Respiratory Physiology of Vertebrates. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-70302-4.
- Randall, David (2002). Eckert Animal Physiology. New York: W.H. Freeman and CO. ISBN 0-7167-3863-5, human biology 146149 Check
- C.Michael Hogan. 2011. Respiration. Encyclopedia of Earth. Eds. Mark McGinley and C.J.Cleveland. National Council for Science and the Environment. Washington DC