In this section we will explore how plants harness the Sun’s energy in photosynthesis in order to make food. This process liberates oxygen which has built up over millions of years in the Earth’s atmosphere. Both animals and plants use this oxygen to oxidise food in a process called aerobic respiration which transfers the energy that the organism needs to perform its functions.
Conversely, anaerobic respiration does not require oxygen to transfer energy. During vigorous exercise the human body is unable to supply the cells with sufficient oxygen and it switches to anaerobic respiration. This process will supply energy but also causes the build-up of lactic acid in muscles which causes fatigue.