Breathing: The Mechanism Of Breathing

Breathing is the process in which air moves in and out of the lungs with the help of various respiratory organs. In other words, breathing is a simple give and take process. While breathing we take in oxygen-rich air from the atmosphere, in lieu of which, we give out air rich in carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. This is again utilized by the plants for photosynthesis. It is a continuous process and goes on all the time, throughout the life of an organism.

The process of taking in air rich in oxygen is called inhalation. Similarly, the process of giving out air rich in carbon dioxide is called exhalation. One breath comprises one inhalation and one exhalation. A person breathes several times in a day. The number of times a person breathes in one minute is termed as his/her breathing rate. To know how many times you breathe in a day, you can simply calculate it by knowing your breathing rate. However, breathing rate varies depending upon the activity a person is doing. It increases when a person walks fast, runs or after a heavy exercise; similarly, decreases when a person is calm.

On an average, an adult breathes 15-18 times a minute. However, during heavy exercise, breathing rate can go up to 25 times per minute.

Mechanism of Breathing

The breathing process takes place with the help of various respiratory organs, which form the part of our respiratory system.

As we breathe in, we inhale air through our nostrils, which then passes through the nasal cavity, from where the oxygen-rich air reaches our lungs via the windpipe. Our lungs are located in our chest cavity, surrounded by ribs, forming a rib-cage, and a large muscular sheet, called diaphragm, lying in the bottom of the cavity. If you put your hands on your chest and abdomen and lie down for a while, you will feel that your stomach is moving up and down continuously. This happens because breathing involves the movement of the ribcage and the diaphragm. When we inhale, the ribs move up and outwards while the diaphragm moves down.

An exact opposite movement occurs during exhalation when the ribs move down and inwards while the diaphragm moves up. The outward movement of the ribs during inhalation expands our chest cavity increasing the space to accommodate air that rushes to our lungs, whereas the inward movement of the ribs helps the carbon dioxide filled the air to be pushed out of the lungs.

Breathing - Inhalation & Exhalation


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