How Does Anaerobic Respiration Work?
Even humans and animals use anaerobic respiration for short periods when they have a low supply of oxygen. To understand this, think of a runner on a track field. As they take off and sprint, it takes a while for aerobic respiration to start up because it takes a few seconds for increased amount of oxygen they need to get into their muscle cells.
During this short time, anaerobic respiration is used to make ATP to fuel your muscles as they run. This form of respiration is not favorable, as only 2 ATP are produced, compared to aerobic respiration, which forms 36 molecules of ATP per molecule of glucose. Anaerobic respiration can also be unfavorable due to the side products it produces. Most humans and animals produce lactic acid as a byproduct of anaerobic respiration.
This is toxic when it builds up in cells and can be felt as a burning feeling in muscles as they fatigue. Thankfully, anaerobic respiration only lasts a maximum of twenty seconds, afterwards which aerobic respiration usually takes over.
The build up of lactic acid leaves us with oxygen debt. This is thought to be why a person needs to take a minute to catch their breath after an intense exercise such as a sprint. In order for lactic acid to be broken down so it is no longer harmful to the cell, more oxygen must be used to break down lactic acid.