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If animals exercise anaerobically (without sufficient oxygen) for an extended period of...

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jessjess123 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 29, 2013 at 10:13 PM via web

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If animals exercise anaerobically (without sufficient oxygen) for an extended period of time, lactic acid accumulates in their muscles and causes cramping. In the context of cellular respiration, explain why this phenomenon occurs.

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jerichorayel | College Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted May 30, 2013 at 3:51 AM (Answer #1)

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Our cells in our body perform cellular respiration in order to convert our glucose to produce energy in the form of ATP. However, this is not always the case. Remember that in order to perform cellular respiration, we need oxygen as fuel for reaction. Due to certain activities, the delivery of oxygen in some parts of the body becomes limited. However, the body still needs to produce ATP so the cells shift into anaerobic respiration. Compared with the normal cellular respiration, anaerobic respiration happens outside the mitochondria. It is less efficient because it only produce 6 ATP per one glucose molecule. The end product would be the presence of lactic acid which causes muscle cramps. Panting happens to supply oxygen to cells thus normalizing the ATP production. 

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