Did you know that Usain Bolt is currently the fastest sprinter in the world? He ran 100 metres in a record 9.58 seconds!
In order to do this, Usain Bolt’s muscles need to respire super quick. He needs all that energy to sprint so fast. But his body can’t keep up with these demands, it can’t respire fast enough. This is where anaerobic respiration steps in.
Anaerobic respiration is where glucose breaks down but without oxygen. Energy is released but not as much as in aerobic respiration. Lactic acid is produced instead of carbon dioxide and water. Lactic acid can cause painful cramps, something we feel in our muscles that stops us from carrying on. To get rid of the lactic acid the person will breathe in deeply in order to get a good supply of oxygen. You have to keep breathing hard for a while after you stop exercising to get oxygen into your muscles to convert the painful lactic acid which has built up, to harmless carbon dioxide and water. The amount of oxygen needed to do this is called oxygen debt.
Anaerobic respiration can be represented by the equation:
Glucose → Lactic acid + Energy
The reactant in anaerobic respiration is glucose. The product is lactic acid. Energy is also released.
Anaerobic respiration occurs in the cytoplasm of the cell and not the mitochondria like in aerobic respiration.
In the following activity, you will recall details of anaerobic respiration.