Background: Exercise training is vital for glycaemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D). While the positive effects of supervised exercise training are well established, unsupervised training may offer an alternative and more sustainable means of realising the benefits of exercise away from a resource-heavy supervised setting.
Objective: To evaluate the available literature and compare the efficacy of supervised and unsupervised exercise training programs on glycemic control in patients with T2D.
Methods: CINAHL, MEDLINE, PubMed, and EMBASE, searched from inception to 20 July 2018. Only studies that included both supervised and unsupervised training were included.
Results: Four studies, involving 115 participants, were included. One compared supervised with unsupervised exercise training and three investigated the efficacy of unsupervised training following supervised training. While supervised training is effective for improving glycaemic control in patients with T2D, unsupervised training may not maintain these changes. Included studies lacked detail relating to the supervised and unsupervised training programs.
Conclusions: Given that exercise is a critical component for maintenance of glycaemic control in patients with T2D, and because unsupervised training has been shown to be effective in improving clinical outcomes in other disease populations, further research is warranted to compare supervised and unsupervised exercise training in patients with T2D. It is important that future studies report standardised and detailed descriptions of key elements that form the basis of supervised and unsupervised exercise training groups.